A Randomized Comparison of In-hospital Rescuer Positions for Endotracheal Intubation in a Difficult Airway

West J Emerg Med. 2018 Jul;19(4):660-667. doi: 10.5811/westjem.2018.4.37227. Epub 2018 May 15.


Introduction: Emergency endotracheal intubation (ETI) is a common and critical procedure performed in both prehospital and in-hospital settings. Studies of prehospital providers have demonstrated that rescuer position influences ETI outcomes. However, studies of in-hospital rescuer position for ETI are limited. While we adhere to strict standards for the administration of ETI, we posited that perhaps requiring in-hospital rescuers to stand for ETI is an obstacle to effectiveness. Our objective was to compare in-hospital emergency medicine (EM) trainees' performance on ETI delivered from both the seated and standing positions.

Methods: EM residents performed ETI on a difficult airway mannequin from both a seated and standing position. They were randomized to the position from which they performed ETI first. All ETIs were recorded and then scored using a modified version of the Airway Management Proficiency Checklist. Residents also rated the laryngeal view and the difficulty of the procedure. We analyzed comparisons between ETI positions with paired t-tests.

Results: Forty-two of our 49 residents (85.7%) participated. Fifteen (35.7%) were female, and all three levels of training were represented. The average number of prior ETI experiences among our subjects was 44 (standard deviation=34). All scores related to ETI performance were statistically equivalent across the two positions (performance score, number of attempts, time to intubation success, and ratings of difficulty and laryngeal view). We also observed no differences across levels of training.

Conclusion: The position of the in-hospital provider, whether seated or standing, had no effect on the provider's ETI performance. Since environmental circumstances sometimes necessitate alternative positioning for effective ETI administration, our findings suggest that there may be value in training residents to perform ETI from both positions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Airway Management / methods
  • Airway Management / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emergency Medicine / education*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Manikins
  • Posture*
  • Prospective Studies