Video as a tool for improving tracheal intubation tasks for emergency medical and trauma care

Ann Emerg Med. 2007 Oct;50(4):436-42, 442.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2007.06.487.


Study objective: We illustrate how audio-video data records can improve emergency medical care, using airway management to show how such video data may help to identify unsafe acts, accident precursors, and latent and systems failures and to evaluate performance.

Methods: This was a retrospective analysis of videos of real patient resuscitation in a trauma center. Participant care providers reviewing their own videos of tracheal intubation identified failures to use diagnostic equipment, fixation errors, and team and communication errors.

Results: Neutral expert observers noted team coordination failures and poor error recovery. Comparison with a consensus guideline for a tracheal intubation task/communication pathway showed that communications were unclear or not made, and key tasks were omitted by team members. Differences were detected between performance of tracheal intubation in elective and emergency circumstances. Revised practices ("3 Cs": clinical examination, communication, carbon dioxide) mitigated task performance and communication deficiencies.

Conclusion: Video is complementary to traditional quality improvement methods for improving performance in airway management and emergency medical and trauma care, assessing standard operating procedures, and reviewing communications. Video data identify performance details not found in quality improvement approaches, including medical record review or recall by participant care providers. Weaknesses in using video for data include lengthy video review processes, poor audio, and the inability to adequately analyze events outside the field of view. Opportunities are to use video audit for quality improvement of other emergency tasks. Video buffering reduces personnel requirements for capture and simplifies data extraction. Medicolegal and confidentiality threats are significant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Audiovisual Aids
  • Clinical Competence
  • Emergency Medicine / education*
  • Emergency Treatment / standards
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / standards*
  • Resuscitation / instrumentation
  • Videotape Recording*