Rapid-sequence intubation at an emergency medicine residency: success rate and adverse events during a two-year period

Acad Emerg Med. 1999 Jan;6(1):31-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.1999.tb00091.x.


Objectives: Rapid-sequence intubation (RSI) is an active airway intervention used frequently in emergency medicine (EM). The authors hypothesized that RSI can be performed safely in the setting of an EM training program at a tertiary care center.

Methods: Observational study of RSI at an urban ED/Level 1 trauma center with annual census of 100,000 patients. Consecutive patients who underwent RSI during a two-year period were studied. Data included age, gender, type of patient (medical/trauma), indication for intubation, number of intubation attempts (laryngoscope passes), training level of operator, and major immediate adverse events (clinical deterioration within 10 minutes of RSI).

Results: RSI was used in 417 of 596 (70%) critically ill patients requiring emergent intubation. The patient demographic distribution was the following: adults 89.7%, male 58%, and trauma 44%. Primary indications for intubation among RSI patients were as follows: mechanical ventilation 57.4%, airway protection 41.3%, and cardiac arrest 1.3%. Distribution of intubations by level of EM training was PGY1, 5%; PGY2, 52%; PGY3, 40%; and attendings, 3%. Intubations were successfully completed within two attempts in 97% of the patients. Major immediate adverse events were encountered in six patients (1.4%) (hypotention=2, hypoxemia=1, dysrhythmia=3). There was no death attributable to RSI. The rate of intubations requiring two or fewer attempts and without major immediate adverse events was 96%. Three patients required cricothyrotomy.

Conclusion: In the setting of an EM residency at a tertiary care ED, RSI can be performed successfully with few major immediate adverse events.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Emergency Treatment*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Intubation, Intratracheal / methods*
  • Male
  • Neuromuscular Blockade*
  • Neuromuscular Blocking Agents


  • Neuromuscular Blocking Agents