Regional experiences of endotracheal intubation during the COVID-19 pandemic in The United Kingdom (2020)

Type of publication:
Conference abstract

Shuker B.; Smith E.; *Checketts P.; Khan Q.

Intensive Care Medicine Experimental; 2020; vol. 8

Introduction: In the United Kingdom (UK), consensus guidelines for airway management were published early in the COVID-19 pandemic making recommendations to support clinicians during this potentially challenging intervention (1). Adaptions to existing guidance for airway management in critically ill adults from the Difficult Airway Society (2) included: use of personal protective equipment (PPE), preferential use of the best skilled airway manager to maximise chance of first-pass success, avoidance of aerosol-generating procedures (such as noninvasive ventilation, high flow nasal oxygenation), and use of reliable well practiced techniques (including videolaryngoscopy where appropriate). Objective(s): Areas of the West Midlands were some of the worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK (3). We aimed to gain insight into the experiences of clinicians involved with airway management during the COVID-19 pandemic in this region. Method(s): An online survey was distributed to multiple centres within the West Midlands region of the UK. Clinicians who had experience of endotracheal intubation in patients with confirmed, suspected, or unknown COVID-19 status were asked to reflect upon their experience of one patient intubation. Result(s): 127 clinicians from 16 hospitals including 3 large university hospitals responded to the online survey, most were consultant grade (56.7%). Clinicians self-reported an average approximate number of pandemic intubations of 7.35 (range 1-30). When asked to reflect on a single intubation, clinicians reflected on intubations in ICU (42.5%), emergency departments (20.5%), wards (8.7%), and theatre (28.3%). Appropriate PPE was available in 96.1%. The most senior clinician available intubated in 65.4%. Clinicians reported first pass success in 93.7% of responses. Most intubators reported use of videolaryngoscopy (74.8%), however 26% reported not using this equipment regularly and 5.5% did not feel confident with their equipment. Despite a high success rate, difficulties were reported in 15.1%. The most common was desaturation. Other common difficulties included equipment or environment unfamiliarity, lack of skilled support. When asked what advice they would give to colleagues, frequently occurring themes included: ensuring familiarity with equipment, use of a checklist, use of videolaryngoscopy, and availability of a second intubator. Desire for simulation and equipment familiarisation was highlighted in multiple responses, and in one example a clinician attributed their success to a simulation session performed in the week prior. Conclusion(s): Experiences from clinicians in this region highlight the specific challenges encountered involved in airway management of patients with COVID-19, in particular highlighting the importance of advance preparation for intubation when faced with unfamiliar circumstances. Simulation sessions, use of checklists and standard operating procedures for emergency intubation may contribute to maintaining preparedness for intubation in this challenging patient group.

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