A program to improve the quality of emergency endotracheal intubation

Paul H. Mayo, Abhijith Hegde, Lewis A. Eisen, Pierre Kory, Peter Doelken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess the results of a quality improvement (QI) project designed to improve safety of emergency endotracheal intubation (EEI). Design: Single center prospective observational. Setting: 16-bed intensive care unit. Participants: Nine pulmonary/critical care fellows. Interventions: For 3 years, EEI performed by the medical intensive care unit team were analyzed to identify interventions that would improve quality of the procedure. By segmental process analysis, the procedure of EEI was subjected to iterative change. Major components of process improvement were development of a combined team approach, a mandatory checklist, use of crew resource management (CRM) tactics, and postevent debriefing. Quality analysis and improvement included training of fellows using scenario-based training (SBT) with computerized patient simulator (CPS) to improve mechanical skills of intubation and team leadership. Fellows received 15 sessions of SBT with CPS using a combined checklist and team approach before assuming team leadership position during real-life EEI. Measurements: For a 10-month period, fellows carried digital voice recorders to EEI; which, when combined with recording of continuous oximetry and BP monitoring were used to assess the quality of EEI. Main Results: 128 EEI were performed of which 101 had full data recorded. Complications were 14% severe hypoxemia (<80% saturation), 6% severe hypotension (SBP<70 mm Hg), 1% death, 20% difficult EEI (≥3 attempts), 11% esophageal intubations, 2% aspiration, and 1% dental injury; 62% EEI were successfully achieved on first attempt, 11% required >3 attempts. Conclusions: EEI may be performed by pulmonary/critical medicine (PCCM) fellows with safety comparable to that described in other studies on EEI. Important parts of the program included the use of formal iterative QI approach, the use of intensive SBT with CPS, basic CRM, a comprehensive checklist, and a combined team approach. A key benefit of the program was to make the process of EEI fully transparent for ongoing quality and safety improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-56
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Intensive Care Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • airway management
  • quality improvement
  • simulation training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'A program to improve the quality of emergency endotracheal intubation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this