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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Survey of Graduating Emergency Medicine Residents’ Experience with Cricothyrotomy

  • Author(s): Makowski, Andrew L.
  • et al.

Introduction: The Emergency Medicine (EM) Residency Review Committee stipulates that residents perform 3 cricothyrotomies in training but does not distinguish between those done on patients or via other training methods. This study was designed to determine how many cricothyrotomies residents have performed on living patients, the breadth and prevalence of alternative methods of instruction, and residents’ degree of comfort with performing the procedure unassisted. Methods: We utilized a web-based tool to survey EM residents nearing graduation and gathered data regarding the number of cricothyrotomies performed on living and deceased patients, animals, and models/simulators. Residents indicating experience with the procedure were asked additional questions as to the indication, supervision, and outcome of their most recent cricothyrotomy. We also collected data regarding experience with rescue airway devices, observation of cricothyrotomy, and comfort (“0-10” scale with “10” representing complete confidence) regarding the procedure. Results: Of 296 residents surveyed, 22.0% performed a cricothyrotomy on a living patient, and 51.6% had witnessed at least one performed. Those who completed a single cricothyrotomy reported a significantly greater level of confidence, 6.3 (95% confidence interval [CI] 5.7-7.0), than those who did none, 4.4 (95% CI 4.1-4.7), p<<0.001. Most respondents, 68.1%, had used the recently deceased to practice the technique, and those who had done so more than once reported higher confidence, 5.5 (95% 5.1-5.9), than those who had never done so, 4.1 (95% CI 3.7-4.5), p<<0.001. Residents who practiced cricothyrotomy on both simulators and the recently deceased expressed more confidence, 5.4 (95% CI 5.0-5.8), than those who used only simulators, 4.0 (95% CI 3.6-4.5), p<<0.001. Neither utilization of models, simulators, or animals, nor observance of others’ performance of the procedure independently affected reported confidence among residents. Conclusion: While prevalence of cricothyrotomy and reported comfort with the procedure remain low, performing the procedure on living or deceased patients increased residents’ confidence in undertaking an unassisted cricothyrotomy upon graduation in the population surveyed. There is evidence to show that multiple methods of instruction may yield the highest benefit, but further study is needed. [West J Emerg Med. 2013;14(6):654–661.]

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