The use of a video laryngoscope by emergency medicine residents is associated with a reduction in esophageal intubations in the emergency department

Acad Emerg Med. 2015 Jun;22(6):700-7. doi: 10.1111/acem.12674. Epub 2015 May 20.


Objectives: The purpose of this investigation was to compare the incidence of esophageal intubations (EIs) when emergency medicine (EM) residents used a direct laryngoscope (DL) versus a video laryngoscope (VL) for intubation attempts in the emergency department (ED).

Methods: Prospectively collected continuous quality improvement data on tracheal intubations performed by EM residents in an academic ED over a 6-year period were retrospectively analyzed. Following each intubation, EM residents completed a data form with patient, intubation, and operator characteristics. Data collected included the method of intubation, drugs used, device(s) used, number of attempts, outcome of each attempt, occurrence of EIs, and occurrence of adverse events (hypoxemia, aspiration, dysrhythmia, hypotension, and cardiac arrest). The incidence of EI was compared between intubation attempts with a DL and with a VL (GlideScope(®) or C-MAC(®) ). Propensity score matching and conditional logistic regression were used to analyze the association between the intubation device (DL vs. VL) and EI.

Results: Over the 6-year period, 2,677 patients underwent 3,425 intubation attempts by EM residents with a DL or a VL. A DL was used in 1,530 attempts (44.7%) and a VL was used in 1,895 attempts (55.3%). There were 96 recognized EIs (2.8%). The incidence of EI when using a DL was 78 of 1,530 attempts (5.1%; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 4.1% to 6.3%) and when using a VL was 18 of 1,895 attempts (1.0%; 95% CI = 0.6% to 1.5%). Based on the propensity score matched analysis, the odds ratio for the occurrence of an EI for DL versus VL was 6.9 (95% CI = 3.3 to 14.4). Patients who had inadvertent EIs had a higher incidence of adverse events (49.5%; 95% CI = 38.9% to 60.0%) than patients in which EI did not occur (19.8%; 95% CI = 18.3% to 21.4%).

Conclusions: The use of a VL by EM residents during an intubation attempt in the ED was associated with significantly fewer EIs compared to when a DL was used. Patients who had inadvertent EIs had significantly more adverse events than those who did not have EIs. EM residency training programs should consider using VLs for ED intubations to maximize patient safety when EM residents are performing intubation.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Emergency Medicine / education*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / adverse effects*
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Laryngoscopy / instrumentation*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Patient Safety
  • Propensity Score
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality Improvement
  • Tertiary Care Centers