A brief educational intervention is effective in teaching the femoral nerve block procedure to first-year emergency medicine residents

J Emerg Med. 2013 Nov;45(5):726-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2013.04.051. Epub 2013 Aug 30.


Background: Hip fractures are a painful condition commonly encountered in the emergency department (ED). Older adults in pain often receive suboptimal doses of analgesics, particularly in crowded EDs. Nerve blocks have been utilized by anesthesiologists to help control pain from hip fractures postoperatively. The use of nerve stimulator with ultrasonographic guidance has increased the safety of this procedure.

Objectives: We instituted a pilot study to assess the ability of Emergency Medicine (EM) resident physicians to effectively perform this procedure after a didactic and demonstration session.

Methods: First-year EM residents from three urban training programs underwent a 1-h didactic and hands-on training session on the femoral nerve block (FNB) procedure. A written pretest was used to assess baseline knowledge; it was administered again (with test items randomized) at 1 and 3 months post training session. A critical actions checklist (direct observation of procedure steps via simulated patient encounter) was used to assess the residents after the training session and again at 3 months.

Results: A total of 38 EM residents were initially evaluated. Thirty-three successfully completed 1-month and 3-month written test evaluations; 30 completed all written and direct observation evaluations. The mean written pretest scores were 66% (SD 9); post-test 92% (SD 5), 1-month 74% (SD 8), and 3-month 75% (SD 9). After initial training, 37 of 38 (97%) residents demonstrated competency (completing ≥ 15 of 19 critical actions) in the FNB procedure determined via direct observation. At 3 months, 25 of 30 residents (83%) continued to retain 85% of their initial critical action skills, and 3 of 30 (10%) saw an improvement in their proficiency.

Conclusion: A 1-h training and demonstration module yielded high competency rates in residents performing critical actions related to the FNB; these skills were well maintained at 3 months. An ongoing study will attempt to correlate this competency with procedures performed on patients.

Keywords: education; emergency medicine; femoral nerve block; hip fracture; nerve block; resident; ultrasound.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Emergency Medicine / education*
  • Female
  • Femoral Nerve
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / methods*
  • Male
  • Nerve Block*
  • Pilot Projects