Introduction: One of the most high-risk tasks regularly performed by emergency medicine (EM) physicians is airway management. Many studies identify an increase in adverse events associated with airway management outside of the operating theatre. Errors of omission are the single most common human error type. To address this risk, the checklist is becoming a common pre-intubation tool. Simulation is a safe setting in which to study the implementation of a new airway checklist. The purpose of this study was to determine if a novel airway checklist decreases practitioners rates of omission of important tasks during simulated resuscitation scenarios. Methods: This was a dual-centre, randomized controlled trial of a novel airway checklist utilized by EM practitioners in a simulated environment. The 29-item peri-intubation checklist was derived by experienced EM practitioners following a review of airway checklists in published and gray literature. Participants were EM residents or EM physicians who work more than 20 hours/month in an emergency department. Volunteers were recruited from two academic health centres to complete three simulated scenarios (two requiring intubation, one cricothyroidotomy), and were randomized to either regular care or checklist use. A minimum of two assessors documented the number of omitted tasks deemed important in airway management and the time until definitive airway management. Discrepancies between assessors were resolved by single-assessor video review. Results: Fifty-four EM practitioners participated. There was no significant difference in baseline characteristics between the two study groups. The average percentage of omitted tasks over the three scenarios was 45.7% in the control group (n=25) and 13.5% in the checklist group (n=29) an absolute difference of 32.2% (95% CI: 27.8%, 36.6%). Time to intubation (normally distributed) was significantly longer in the checklist group for the first two scenarios (mean difference 114.10s, 95% CI: 48.21s, 179.98s and 76.34s, 95% CI:31.35s ,121.33s), but there was no statistical difference in the third scenario where cricothyroidotomy was required (mean difference 33.75s, 95% CI: -28.14s, 95.65s). Conclusion: In a simulated setting, use of an airway checklist significantly decreased the omission rate of important airway management tasks, however it increased the time to definitive airway management. Further study is required to determine if these findings are consistent in a clinical setting and how they impact the rate of adverse events.
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