Assessing Advanced Airway Management Performance in a National Cohort of Emergency Medical Services Agencies

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Abstract

Study objective

Although often the focus of quality improvement efforts, emergency medical services (EMS) advanced airway management performance has few national comparisons, nor are there many assessments with benchmarks accounting for differences in agency volume or patient mix. We seek to assess variations in advanced airway management and conventional intubation performance in a national cohort of EMS agencies.

Methods

We used EMS data from ESO Solutions, a national EMS electronic health record system. We identified EMS emergency responses with attempted advanced airway management (conventional intubation, rapid sequence intubation, sedation-assisted intubation, supraglottic airway insertion, and cricothyroidotomy). We also separately examined cases with initial conventional intubation. We determined EMS agency risk-standardized advanced airway management and initial conventional intubation success rates by using mixed-effects regression models, fitting agency as a random intercept, adjusting for patient age, sex, race, cardiac arrest, or trauma status, and use of rapid sequence or sedation-assisted intubation, and accounting for reliability variations from EMS agency airway volume. We assessed changes in agency advanced airway management and initial conventional intubation performance rank after risk and reliability adjustment. We also identified high and low performers (reliability-adjusted and risk-standardized success confidence intervals falling outside the mean).

Results

During 2011 to 2015, 550 EMS agencies performed 57,209 advanced airway management procedures. Among 401 EMS agencies with greater than or equal to 10 advanced airway management procedures, there were a total of 56,636 procedures. Median reliability-adjusted and risk-standardized EMS agency advanced airway management success was 92.9% (interquartile range 90.1% to 94.8%; minimum 58.2%; maximum 99.0%). There were 56 advanced airway management low-performing and 38 high-performing EMS agencies. Among 342 agencies with greater than or equal to 10 initial conventional intubations, there were a total of 37,360 initial conventional intubations. Median reliability-adjusted and risk-standardized EMS agency initial conventional intubation success was 77.3% (interquartile range 70.9% to 83.6%; minimum 47.1%; maximum 95.8%). There were 64 initial conventional intubation low-performing and 45 high-performing EMS agencies.

Conclusion

In this national series, EMS advanced airway management and initial conventional intubation performance varied widely. Reliability adjustment and risk standardization may influence EMS airway management performance assessments.

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