The effectiveness of out-of-hospital use of continuous end-tidal carbon dioxide monitoring on the rate of unrecognized misplaced intubation within a regional emergency medical services system

Salvatore Silvestri, George A Ralls, Baruch Krauss, Josef Thundiyil, Steven G Rothrock, Amy Senn, Eric Carter, Jay Falk
Annals of Emergency Medicine 2005, 45 (5): 497-503

STUDY OBJECTIVE: We evaluate the association between out-of-hospital use of continuous end-tidal carbon dioxide (ETCO2) monitoring and unrecognized misplaced intubations within a regional emergency medical services (EMS) system.

METHODS: This was a prospective, observational study, conducted during a 10-month period, on all patients arriving at a regional Level I trauma center emergency department who underwent out-of-hospital endotracheal intubation. The regional EMS system that serves the trauma service area is composed of multiple countywide systems containing numerous EMS agencies. Some of the EMS agencies had independently implemented continuous ETCO2 monitoring before the start of the study. The main outcome measure was the unrecognized misplaced intubation rate with and without use of continuous ETCO2 monitoring.

RESULTS: Two hundred forty-eight patients received out-of-hospital airway management, of whom 153 received intubation. Of the 153 patients, 93 (61%) had continuous ETCO2 monitoring, and 60 (39%) did not. Forty-nine (32%) were medical patients, 104 (68%) were trauma patients, and 51 (33%) were in cardiac arrest. The overall incidence of unrecognized misplaced intubations was 9%. The rate of unrecognized misplaced intubations in the group for whom continuous ETCO2 monitoring was used was zero, and the rate in the group for whom continuous ETCO2 monitoring was not used was 23.3% (95% confidence interval 13.4% to 36.0%).

CONCLUSION: No unrecognized misplaced intubations were found in patients for whom paramedics used continuous ETCO2 monitoring. Failure to use continuous ETCO2 monitoring was associated with a 23% unrecognized misplaced intubation rate.

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