Alternating day emergency medicine and anesthesia resident responsibility for management of the trauma airway: a study of laryngoscopy performance and intubation success

Ann Emerg Med. 2004 Jan;43(1):48-53. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(03)00638-3.


Study objective: We compare laryngoscopy performance and overall intubation success in trauma airways when primary airway management alternated between emergency medicine and anesthesia residents on an every-other-day basis.

Methods: Data on all trauma intubations during approximately 3 years were prospectively collected. Primary airway management was assigned to emergency department (ED) residents on even days and anesthesia residents on odd days. Emergency medicine residents intubated patients who arrived without notification or who needed immediate intubation before anesthesia arrived. The study was conducted in an inner-city, Level I trauma center with approximately 50,000 ED patients and 1,800 major trauma cases a year. Main outcomes were success or failure at laryngoscopy and the number of laryngoscopy attempts needed for intubation.

Results: Six hundred fifty-eight trauma patients were intubated during the study period. Laryngoscopy was successful in 654 of 656 cases. Two (0.3%) patients underwent cricothyrotomy after failed laryngoscopy, and 2 (0.3%) patients had awake nasal intubation without laryngoscopy. The specific number of laryngoscopy attempts was unknown in 6 cases (3 from each service), resulting in 650 cases for laryngoscopy performance analysis. Overall, 87% of patients were intubated on first attempt, and 3 or more attempts occurred in 2.9% of patients. Laryngoscopy performance by service (broken down by 1, 2, and >or=3 attempts) was as follows: emergency medicine 86.4%, 11%, and 2.6% versus anesthesia 89.7%, 6.7%, and 3.6%. Analysis by service was done by using Wilcoxon Mann-Whitney testing (P=.225).

Conclusion: There were no differences in laryngoscopy performance and intubation success in trauma airways managed on an every-other-day basis by emergency medicine versus anesthesia residents.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anesthesiology / education*
  • Anesthesiology / standards
  • Clinical Competence
  • Emergency Medicine / education*
  • Emergency Medicine / standards
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / standards*
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Laryngoscopy / methods
  • Laryngoscopy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tracheotomy / statistics & numerical data
  • Trauma Centers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy