Managing the difficult airway: a survey of residency directors and a call for change

J Emerg Med. 2005 May;28(4):473-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2004.11.027.


This study examines airway management issues in Emergency Medicine residency programs (EMRP) including; airway adjunct availability and frequency of use, number of pediatric intubations, approach to trauma airways, and teaching methods. Surveys were distributed to all accredited EM program directors, who were asked about these issues. Availability of airway adjuncts among respondents included: cricothyrotomy kits (94.9%), fiberoptic scopes (76.3%), Bougies (69.5%), LMAs (66.1%), intubating LMAs (61.0%), lighted stylets (54.2%), retrograde intubation kits (49.2%), Combitube (45.8%), and esophageal obturator airways (15.3%). Responses indicated that 93.6% of airways were orotracheal intubations. A small percentage of intubations used airway adjuncts. Programs use didactics, mannequins, cadavers, direct care and operating rooms for airway training. Emergency Physicians (EPs) are responsible for trauma airways in 89.9% of programs. Most programs have multiple airway adjuncts available, but they are rarely utilized. EPs must become proficient with airway adjuncts. EMRPs must increase resident exposure by using airway adjuncts during routine intubations.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Clinical Competence
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / instrumentation*
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods*
  • Teaching / methods*
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications