A Comparison of Prehospital Versus Emergency Department Intubations in Iraq and Afghanistan

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    Schauer SG, April MD, Tannenbaum LI, Maddry JK, Cunningham CW, Blackburn MB, Arana AA, Shackelford S 19(2). 87 - 90 (Journal Article)

    Background: Airway obstruction is the second most common cause of potentially preventable death on the battlefield. We compared survival in the combat setting among patients undergoing prehospital versus emergency department (ED) intubation. Methods: Patients were identified from the Department of Defense Trauma Registry (DODTR) from January 2007 to August 2016. We defined the prehospital cohort as subjects undergoing intubation prior to arrival to a forward surgical team (FST) or combat support hospital (CSH), and the ED cohort as subjects undergoing intubation at an FST or CSH. We compared study variables between these cohorts; survival was our primary outcome. Results: There were 4341 intubations documented in the DODTR during the study period: 1117 (25.7%) patients were intubated prehospital and 3224 (74.3%) were intubated in the ED. Patients intubated prehospital had a lower median age (24 versus 25 years, p < .001), composed a higher proportion of host nation forces (36.1% versus 29.1%, p < .001), had a lower proportion of injuries from explosives (57.6% versus 61.0%, p = .030), and had higher median injury severity scores (20 versus 18, p = .045). A lower proportion of the prehospital cohort survived to hospital discharge (76.4% versus 84.3%, p < .001). The prehospital cohort had lower odds of survival to hospital discharge in both univariable (odds ratio [OR] 0.60, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.51-0.71) and multivariable analyses controlling for confounders (OR 0.70, 95% CI 0.58-0.85). In a subgroup analysis of patients with a head injury, the lower odds of survival persisted in the multivariable analysis (OR 0.49, 95% CI 0.49-0.82). Conclusions: Patients intubated in the prehospital setting had a lower survival than those intubated in the ED. This finding persisted after controlling for measurable confounders.

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