Intubation Success in Critical Care Transport: A Multicenter Study

Prehosp Emerg Care. 2018 Sep-Oct;22(5):571-577. doi: 10.1080/10903127.2017.1419324. Epub 2018 Feb 21.


Introduction: Tracheal intubation (TI) is a lifesaving critical care skill. Failed TI attempts, however, can harm patients. Critical care transport (CCT) teams function as the first point of critical care contact for patients being transported to tertiary medical centers for specialized surgical, medical, and trauma care. The Ground and Air Medical qUality in Transport (GAMUT) Quality Improvement Collaborative uses a quality metric database to track CCT quality metric performance, including TI. We sought to describe TI among GAMUT participants with the hypothesis that CCT would perform better than other prehospital TI reports and similarly to hospital TI success.

Methods: The GAMUT Database is a global, voluntary database for tracking consensus quality metric performance among CCT programs performing neonatal, pediatric, and adult transports. The TI-specific quality metrics are "first attempt TI success" and "definitive airway sans hypoxia/hypotension on first attempt (DASH-1A)." The 2015 GAMUT Database was queried and analysis included patient age, program type, and intubation success rate. Analysis included simple statistics and Pearson chi-square with Bonferroni-adjusted post hoc z tests (significance = p < 0.05 via two-sided testing).

Results: Overall, 85,704 patient contacts (neonatal n [%] = 12,664 [14.8%], pediatric n [%] = 28,992 [33.8%], adult n [%] = 44,048 [51.4%]) were included, with 4,036 (4.7%) TI attempts. First attempt TI success was lowest in neonates (59.3%, 617 attempts), better in pediatrics (81.7%, 519 attempts), and best in adults (87%, 2900 attempts), p < 0.001. Adult-focused CCT teams had higher overall first attempt TI success versus pediatric- and neonatal-focused teams (86.9% vs. 63.5%, p < 0.001) and also in pediatric first attempt TI success (86.5% vs. 75.3%, p < 0.001). DASH-1A rates were lower across all patient types (neonatal = 51.9%, pediatric = 74.3%, adult = 79.8%).

Conclusions: CCT TI is not uncommon, and rates of TI and DASH-1A success are higher in adult patients and adult-focused CCT teams. TI success rates are higher in CCT than other prehospital settings, but lower than in-hospital success TI rates. Identifying factors influencing TI success among high performers should influence best practice strategies for TI.

Keywords: adult; critical care transport; neonate; pediatric; tracheal intubation.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Critical Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quality Improvement / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies