Availability and organization of difficult airway equipment in Swedish hospitals: A national survey of anaesthesiologists

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Background: Airway complications account for almost one third of anaesthesia-related brain damage and death. Immediate access to equipment enabling rescue airway strategies is crucial for successful management of unanticipated difficult airway situations. Methods: We conducted a nationwide survey of Swedish anaesthesiologists to analyse availability and organization of difficult airway trolleys (DATs), and multiple factors pertaining to difficult airway management, to highlight areas of potential improvement. Results: Six hundred and thirty-nine anaesthesiologists completed the 14-item survey. Whereas DATs were almost ubiquitous (95%) in main operating departments of hospitals, prevalence was low in remote anaesthetizing locations (20.3%) and electroconvulsive therapy units (26.6%). Approximately 60% of emergency departments had a DAT. Immediate (within 60 seconds) access to videolaryngoscopes in all units where general anaesthesia is conducted was reported by 56.8%. Almost half of anaesthesiologists reported that all DATs at their workplace were standardized. Forty-six per cent reported that the DATs were organized according to a difficult airway algorithm; almost 90% believe that such an organization can impact the outcome of a difficult airway situation positively. Only 36.2% of DATs contained second-generation supraglottic airway devices exclusively. Most Swedish anaesthesiologists use the Swedish Society of Anaesthesiology and Intensive care Medicine difficult airway algorithm, but almost one fifth prefer the Difficult Airway Society algorithm. Less than half of respondents underwent formal difficult airway training annually. Conclusion: Our results motivate efforts to (a) increase availability of DATs in remote anaesthetizing locations, (b) increasingly standardize DATs and organize DATs according to airway algorithms, and (c) increase the frequency of difficult airway training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1313-1320
Number of pages8
JournalActa Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica
Issue number10
Early online date2019 Jul 8
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Nov

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Anesthesiology and Intensive Care

Free keywords

  • difficult airway
  • equipment
  • intubation
  • survey
  • trolley


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