Difficult airway equipment in English emergency departments

Authors


T.Morton Accident and Emergency Department, Southampton General Hospital, Tremona Road, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK

Abstract

The need for tracheal intubation in the emergency department is often unpredictable and precipitous in nature. When compared with the operating room, a higher incidence of difficult intubation is observed. There are currently no accepted guidelines with respect to the stocking of difficult airway equipment in the emergency department. We have conducted a telephone survey to determine the availability of equipment for the management of the difficult airway in English emergency departments. Overall, the majority of units held a curved laryngoscope blade (100%), gum elastic bougie (99%) and surgical airway device (98%). Of alternative devices for ventilation, a laryngeal mask airway was kept by 65% of departments, a needle cricothyroidostomy kit by 63% and an oesophageal-tracheal twin-lumen airway (Combitube) by 18%. Of alternative devices for intubation, fewer than 10% held a retrograde intubating kit, intubating laryngeal mask, bronchoscope or lighted stylet. Seventy-four per cent of departments held an end-tidal carbon dioxide detector.

Ancillary