Just-in-Time Simulation to Guide Workflow Design for Coronavirus Disease 2019 Difficult Airway Management

Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2020 Aug;21(8):e485-e490. doi: 10.1097/PCC.0000000000002435.


Objectives: The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has required that hospitals rapidly adapt workflows and processes to limit disease spread and optimize the care of critically ill children.

Design and setting: As part of our institution's coronavirus disease 2019 critical care workflow design process, we developed and conducted a number of simulation exercises, increasing in complexity, progressing to intubation wearing personal protective equipment, and culminating in activation of our difficult airway team for an airway emergency.

Patients and interventions: In situ simulations were used to identify and rework potential failure points to generate guidance for optimal airway management in coronavirus disease 2019 suspected or positive children. Subsequent to this high-realism difficult airway simulation was a real-life difficult airway event in a patient suspected of coronavirus disease 2019 less than 12 hours later, validating potential failure points and effectiveness of rapidly generated guidance.

Measurements and main results: A number of potential workflow challenges were identified during tabletop and physical in situ manikin-based simulations. Experienced clinicians served as participants, debriefed, and provided feedback that was incorporated into local site clinical pathways, job aids, and suggested practices. Clinical management of an actual suspected coronavirus disease 2019 patient with difficult airway demonstrated very similar success and anticipated failure points. Following debriefing and assembly of a success/failure grid, a coronavirus disease 2019 airway bundle template was created using these simulations and clinical experiences for others to adapt to their sites.

Conclusions: Integration of tabletop planning, in situ simulations, and debriefing of real coronavirus disease 2019 cases can enhance planning, training, job aids, and feasible policies/procedures that address human factors, team communication, equipment choice, and patient/provider safety in the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic era.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training / methods
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods*
  • Male
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / therapy*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Simulation Training / methods*
  • Workflow*
  • Young Adult