Outcomes after out-of-hospital endotracheal intubation errors

Resuscitation. 2009 Jan;80(1):50-5. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2008.08.016. Epub 2008 Oct 25.


Introduction: We sought to evaluate the association between three key out-of-hospital endotracheal intubation (ETI) errors and patient outcomes.

Methods: We prospectively collected multicenter data on out-of-hospital ETI attempted by Emergency Medical Service (EMS) rescuers. We probabilistically linked these data to statewide EMS, death and hospital discharge data sets. The key ETI error events were (1) endotracheal tube misplacement or dislodgement, (2) multiple ETI attempts (> or =4 laryngoscopies) and (3) failed ETI. The primary outcomes were death (survival to hospital discharge) and secondary complications identified through ICD-9 discharge diagnoses. Using Cox regression with heavyside functions, we identified the associations between out-of-hospital ETI errors and early (in the field or emergency department) and later (on or after hospital admission) death. We censored non-linked cases, adjusted for important clinical covariates, and used a shared frailty regression model to account for clustering by EMS agency. We evaluated the associations between out-of-hospital ETI errors and secondary complications using univariable odds ratios with exact 95% confidence intervals.

Results: Of 1954 out-of-hospital ETI, 444 (22.7%) patients experienced one or more ETI errors, including tube misplacement or dislodgement in 61 (3%), multiple ETI attempts in 62 (3%) and failed ETI in 359 (15%). Of the 1196 (61%) cases linked to outcomes, 872 (73%) died and 323 (27%) survived to hospital discharge. ETI errors were not associated with early death (tube misplacement or dislodgement: Hazard Ratio 0.98, 95% CI 0.65-1.47; multiple ETI attempts: 1.22, 0.80-1.85; failed ETI: 1.10, 0.88-1.39) or later death (tube misplacement or dislodgement: 0.40, 0.10-1.62; multiple ETI attempts: 1.77, 0.23-13.30; failed ETI: 0.76, 0.47-1.25). Pneumonitis was associated with failed ETI (n=20, 19%; univariable OR 2.54; 95% CI 1.24-5.25).

Conclusion: Out-of-hospital ETI errors are not associated with mortality. Failed out-of-hospital ETI increases the odds of pneumonitis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Causality
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / mortality
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Medical Errors / mortality
  • Medical Errors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pennsylvania
  • Pneumonia / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiration, Artificial / methods
  • Respiration, Artificial / statistics & numerical data
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult