Trauma unit emergency doctor airway management

Hardcastle T. C. ; Goff T. (2007)


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Objectives. To audit indications for and practice (in terms of training/ qualification) of definitive airway management compared with current UK practices. Design. Consecutive observational study. Setting. Tygerberg Academic Hospital Trauma Service, Western Cape. Subjects. All trauma patients either arriving intubated or requiring intubation at the Trauma unit during the period 1-31 August 2006. Outcome measures. A data collection proforma was completed either at the time of intubation or from medical records. Results. Fifty-seven patients required definitive airway management. In the unit 32 patients (56%) were intubated by emergency medicine registrars or medical officers, with rapid-sequence intubations (RSIs) in all 32 (100%). Seven patients (12.3%) were intubated by paramedics pre-hospital, and 18 patients (31.6%) were intubated at referring hospitals by non-anaesthetists. Endotracheal intubation was successful in 55 patients (96.4%). Two patients (3.6%) could not be intubated unit. Clinical outcomes included 12 patients (21%) extubated for ward transfer, 7 patients (12.3%) admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU), 21 patients (36.8%) taken for surgery, and 17 patients (29.8%) died. Motor vehicle accident (MVA) was the predominant mechanism of injury, accounting for 30 (52.6%) patients, while 16 patients (28.1%) had penetrating injuries (gunshot and/or stab wounds), 6 patients (10.5%) had blunt trauma, and the remaining 5 patients (8.8%) suffered serious burns. Conclusion. The most common indication for intubation was a Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) of less than 8, typically in the polytrauma patient with suspected head injury due to MVA. Emergency doctors managed 100% of definitive airway in-hospital, and RSI was the favoured method. This differs greatly from the UK where non-anaesthetists only perform between 31% and 56% of trauma intubations, with the rest performed by anaesthetists. Outcome was, however, similar to that described in the literature.

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