An overweight, 72-year outdated male comes into the ER experiencing acute respiratory misery. He has a historical past of obstructive sleep apnea. The affected person is suctioned and makes an attempt to supply bag-mask air flow are unsuccessful. His situation quickly deteriorates. It turns into evident that intubation is required, and noting the blue bracelet on the affected person’s wrist studying “Troublesome to Intubate”, the ER physician pages the airway response workforce stat…

What’s an Airway Response Staff?

Increasingly more throughout the nation, hospitals are establishing airway response groups to deal with tough airway emergencies, Just like calling a Code Blue, an airway emergency might be initiated, bringing a workforce of specifically skilled consultants to the bedside to handle the state of affairs. The objective of the airway response workforce is to lower the prevalence of affected person morbidity and mortality related to tough airway administration.


Sufferers who’ve had tough intubations up to now or these with sure bodily traits–equivalent to superior age, excessive BMI, quick neck, and small mouth–might be recognized with a color-coded wristband or signal on the bedside, indicating that the airway response workforce needs to be known as if an emergency arises. Nonetheless, within the case of an unanticipated tough airway or unsuccessful intubation makes an attempt, the workforce will also be paged for help with any affected person.


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Who’s on an Airway Response Staff?

Staff members can fluctuate by hospital, however generally included are otolaryngologists, anesthesiologists, and emergency medication physicians. The workforce typically additionally features a devoted group of nurses, respiratory therapists and technicians.

These professionals obtain specialised coaching in airway administration strategies developed by the hospital. They’ve entry to and are proficient with using specialised airway administration gear. Throughout coaching, additionally they refine their communication expertise, which permits them to deal with emergencies easily and effectively.


What Sort of Gear Do Airway Groups Use?

Generally, airway groups will develop their very own airway emergency crash carts and place them in strategic areas of the hospital the place respiratory emergencies are most probably to occur, such because the working room, emergency room, and intensive care items. These carts are sealed, and after they’re opened, they’re restocked and resealed. This ensures that wanted gear is all the time accessible.


What’s included within the crash cart can differ between particular person hospitals, however for instance, normal gear ought to embody: 


  • Gear for mechanical (bag-mask or EGD) air flow
  • Adjuncts to direct and oblique laryngoscopy equivalent to tracheal introducers
  • Direct laryngoscopy alternate options equivalent to video-laryngoscopes and light-weight wands
  • A cricothyrotomy package to facilitate trans tracheal entry 
  • Gentle sources, cameras, and screens for strategies both requiring, or facilitated by this gear;
  • Medicine and gear to use topical airway anesthesia or airway blocks


With this superior gear, airway response workforce members can typically efficiently intubate tough airway sufferers with out inflicting additional trauma.


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The Success of Airway Response Groups within the Hospital Setting

The pandemic introduced unprecedented numbers of sufferers with acute respiratory misery to hospital methods, and that required speedy adaptation to reply to the elevated demand for airway administration.


Massachusetts Common Hospital used airway response groups to nice success. In reporting their outcomes from March 10, 2020, by Might 26, 2020, the hospital acknowledged:


  • There have been 619 airway consults, and the airway response workforce carried out 341 intubations
  • There was a 4-fold enhance in intubations, however there was no enhance in cardiac arrests or surgical airways and no documented COVID-19 infections among the many airway workforce.


They additional acknowledged that their system-level method efficiently met the sudden escalation in demand for airway administration. This method, they mentioned, addressed staffing wants, prioritized supplier safety, and enhanced the standard of care.


As well as, a examine confirmed airway institution time was diminished from 55 to 22 minutes and re-intubation time from 18 to five minutes. As well as, there was a lower within the variety of surgical airways wanted.


You by no means know when a tough airway will current. This implies hospitals ought to take into account including an airway response workforce with the correct gear to supply a excessive degree of affected person care.



Editor’s Word: This weblog was initially revealed in November, 2015. It has been re-published with extra updated content material.


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