Objective: Out-of-hospital endotracheal intubation (OOH-ETI) has been associated with adverse outcomes; whether transport distance changes this relationship is unclear. We sought to determine whether patients injured farther from the hospital benefit more from OOH-ETI than those injured closer.
Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort analysis of trauma patients > 14 years old transported to two Level 1 trauma centers and surviving to admission from 2000 to 2003. We used probabilistically linked geographic data to calculate transport distance. To adjust for the nonrandom selection of patients for OOH-ETI, we used a propensity score based on clinical variables: prehospital physiology, demographics, transport mode, mechanism, comorbidities, Abbreviated Injury Scale head injury score >or= 3, Injury Severity Score, blood transfusion, and major surgery. Propensity-adjusted multivariable logistic regression with mode of transport was used to test the interaction between distance and OOH-ETI.
Results: 8,786 patients were included, 534 with OOH-ETI. Patients with OOH-ETI had higher adjusted mortality (odds ratio [OR] 2.06, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.33-3.18), and there was a significant interaction between distance and OOH-ETI (p = 0.02). Patients with shortest distances had the highest mortality (OR 3.98, 95% CI 2.08-7.60). Probability of mortality was higher with OOH-ETI across all distances and increased for patients closest to the hospital. Helicopter transport was associated with improved survival.
Conclusions: Prehospital intubation is associated with increased mortality among trauma patients at all distances from the hospital. Patients with the shortest transport distances had the greatest mortality associated with OOH-ETI, whereas helicopter transport was associated with improved survival. The event location and ensuing distance to the hospital are another factor to consider when instituting and modifying OOH airway protocols.