Thursday, May 19, 2005

Drug-Assisted Intubation

The American College of Emergency Medicine (ACEP) website includes notice of several new - and in my opinion, important - Policy Statements. One such statement, on Drug-Assisted Intubation in the Prehospital Setting, is excerpted below.

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma (ACS-COT), and the National Association of EMS Physicians (NAEMSP) recognize that expert prehospital airway management by trained, non-physician, EMS providers is of paramount importance in the treatment of critically ill and injured patients. Endotracheal intubation (ETI) may be difficult or impossible, especially if the patient is combative or has intact airway reflexes. The scope of prehospital care may include drug-assisted intubation (DAI) to facilitate ETI.

DAI is an advanced airway procedure that should not be considered mandatory, nor is it appropriate, for many prehospital EMS systems. DAI should be utilized only by EMS systems that, in the judgment of the EMS medical director(s), have a specific need for the procedure and possess adequate resources to develop and maintain a prehospital DAI protocol. It must be understood that DAI is a powerful technique used to facilitate endotracheal intubation, which can be harmful if not performed properly. Every effort must be made to ensure that EMS providers authorized to perform DAI demonstrate ongoing competence in order to maximize patient safety and quality of care. This position statement is not an advocacy statement for or against the use of DAI.

EMS providers performing DAI should possess training, knowledge, and experience in the techniques and in the use of pharmacologic agents used to perform DAI. Confirmation of proper endotracheal tube placement is essential.


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