Incidence of desaturation during prehospital rapid sequence intubation in a physician-based helicopter emergency service



      Hypoxemia may occur during rapid sequence intubation (RSI). This study establishes the incidence of this adverse event in patients intubated by physicians in a helicopter emergency service in Norway.


      This was a prospective, observational study of all RSIs performed by helicopter emergency service physicians during a 12-month period. Hypoxemia was defined as a decrease in Spo2 values to below 90% or a decrease of more than 10% if the initial Spo2 was less than 90%.


      A total of 122 prehospital intubations were performed during the study period. Spo2 data were available for 101 (82.8%) patients. Hypoxemia was present in 11 (10.9%) patients.


      Prehospital, RSI-related hypoxemia rates in this study are lower than reported rates in similar studies and are comparable with in-hospital rates. Prehospital RSI may accordingly be considered a safe procedure when performed by experienced physicians with appropriate field training.
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