Supraglottic airway device placement by respiratory therapists



      Respiratory Therapists (RTs) are some of the first staff to arrive at in-hospital incidents where cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is needed, yet at some facilities, their ability to intubate is limited by hospital scope of practice. During the intubation process, CPR is often interrupted which could potentially increase the likelihood of adverse patient outcomes. Training RTs to secure the airway using non-intubation methods may reduce or eliminate time for CPR interruptions and allow for earlier continuous/uninterrupted chest compressions.


      A pilot study was developed to assess the effectiveness of a new policy for RT scope of practice.


      RTs were trained for supraglottic airway device placement prior to procedure initiation. After each device insertion event, RTs completed a written survey. Time between cardiac arrest and device insertion, number of insertion attempts, ease of placement, technical specifications of the device, complications, and survival were compiled and compared between supraglottic airway device and endotracheal tube (ETT) placement.


      Procedural information from 23 patients who received a supraglottic airway device during the trial was compared to retrospective data of CPR events requiring intubation from the previous year. Time between initiation of cardiac arrest and advanced airway placement decreased significantly (p < 0.0001) when RTs placed the supraglottic airway device (4.7 min) versus ETT at CPR events the previous year (8.6 min). Device-associated complications were minimal and patient mortality was the same regardless of device.


      We propose that more RTs should be trained to insert supraglottic airway devices during inpatient CPR events.


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