Difficult airway equipment in departments of emergency medicine in Ireland: results of a national survey

Eur J Anaesthesiol. 2004 Feb;21(2):128-31. doi: 10.1017/s026502150400208x.


Background and objective: Adverse effects associated with difficult airway management can be catastrophic and include death, brain injury and myocardial injury. Closed-malpractice claims have shown prolonged and persistent attempts at endotracheal intubation to be the most common situation leading to disastrous respiratory events. To date, there has been no evaluation of the types of difficult airway equipment currently available in Irish departments of emergency medicine. The objective of this survey was to identify the difficult airway equipment available in Irish departments of emergency medicine.

Methods: Departments of emergency medicine in the Republic of Ireland with at least one dedicated Emergency Medicine consultant were surveyed via telephone.

Results: All of the departments contacted held at least one alternative device on site for both ventilation and intubation. The most common alternative ventilation device was the laryngeal mask airway (89%). The most common alternative intubating device was the surgical airway device (100%).

Conclusions: Irish departments of emergency medicine compare well with those in the UK and USA, when surveyed concerning difficult airway equipment. However, we believe that this situation could be further improved by training inexperienced healthcare providers in the use of the laryngeal mask airway and intubating laryngeal mask airway, by placing greater emphasis on the ready availability of capnography and by the increased use of portable difficult airway storage units.

MeSH terms

  • Airway Obstruction / complications
  • Airway Obstruction / therapy
  • Emergency Medicine / instrumentation
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / standards
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Equipment and Supplies, Hospital / supply & distribution
  • Health Care Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / adverse effects
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / instrumentation*
  • Ireland
  • Laryngeal Masks / statistics & numerical data
  • Laryngeal Masks / supply & distribution*