Neonatal intubation performance: room for improvement in tertiary neonatal intensive care units

Resuscitation. 2013 Oct;84(10):1359-64. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2013.03.014. Epub 2013 Apr 3.


Objective: To describe neonatal tracheal intubation (TI) performance across five neonatal intensive care units.

Methods: This prospective descriptive study was conducted at five level III neonatal intensive care units (NICU) between July 2010 and July 2011. TI performance data were collected using a standardized data collection instrument (provider, procedure, and patient characteristics) and analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. The primary outcome of interest was procedural success rate defined as a tube placed in the airway between the vocal cords that could be used to provide ventilation.

Results: Forty-four percent of 455 TI attempts (203 patients) were successful. Attending physicians and 3rd year neonatal fellows had the highest success rates; 72.2% and 70%, respectively. Pediatric residents had the lowest success rate (20.3%). The median duration of attempts was 30s for residents, 25s for fellows, and 20s for neonatal attending physicians. The most common reasons cited for failure were inability to visualize the vocal cords (25%), patient decompensation (desaturation/bradycardia, 41%) and esophageal TI (19%). The duration of all TI attempts ranged from 5s to 180s and there was no difference between successful and failed attempts. Impending respiratory failure (46.5%) was the most common indication for TI. Patient factors (weight, gestational age, or number of previous TI attempts) were not associated with TI success.

Conclusions: Overall TI procedure success rates were poor. Providers with advanced training were more likely to be successful. Patient factors were not associated with TI success.

Keywords: Graduate medical education; Intubation; Medical procedure; Neonatal intensive care unit; Neonates; Resident education.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal*
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / standards*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality Improvement*
  • Tertiary Care Centers