Endotracheal Intubation in Neonates: A Prospective Study of Adverse Safety Events in 162 Infants

J Pediatr. 2016 Jan:168:62-66.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2015.09.077. Epub 2015 Nov 2.


Objective: To determine the rate of adverse events associated with endotracheal intubation in newborns and modifiable factors contributing to these events.

Study design: We conducted a prospective, observational study in a 100-bed, academic, level IV neonatal intensive care unit from September 2013 through June 2014. We collected data on intubations using standardized data collection instruments with validation by medical record review. Intubations in the delivery or operating rooms were excluded. The primary outcome was an intubation with any adverse event. Adverse events were defined and tracked prospectively as nonsevere or severe. We measured clinical variables including number of attempts to successful intubation and intubation urgency (elective, urgent, or emergent). We used logistic regression models to estimate the association of these variables with adverse events.

Results: During the study period, 304 intubations occurred in 178 infants. Data were available for 273 intubations (90%) in 162 patients. Adverse events occurred in 107 (39%) intubations with nonsevere and severe events in 96 (35%) and 24 (8.8%) intubations, respectively. Increasing number of intubation attempts (OR 2.1, 95% CI, 1.6-2.6) and emergent intubations (OR 4.7, 95% CI, 1.7-13) were predictors of adverse events. The primary cause of emergent intubations was unplanned extubation (62%).

Conclusions: Adverse events are common in the neonatal intensive care unit, occurring in 4 of 10 intubations. The odds of an adverse event doubled with increasing number of attempts and quadrupled in the emergent setting. Quality improvement efforts to address these factors are needed to improve patient safety.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / adverse effects*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies