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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Quality Improvement Initiative to Increase Rate of and Time to Post-intubation Analgesia in the Emergency Department


Introduction: Intubation and mechanical ventilation are common interventions performed in the emergency department (ED). These interventions cause pain and discomfort to patients and necessitate analgesia and sedation. Recent trends in the ED and intensive care unit focus on an analgesia-first model to improve patient outcomes. Initial data from our institution demonstrated an over-emphasis on sedation and an opportunity to improve analgesic administration. As a result of these findings, the ED undertook a quality improvement (QI) project aimed at improving analgesia administration and time to analgesia post-intubation.

Methods: We performed a pre-post study between January 2017–February 2019 in the ED. Patients over the age of 18 who were intubated using rapid sequence intubation (RSI) were included in the study. The primary outcome was the rate of analgesia administration; a secondary outcome was time to analgesia administration. Quality improvement interventions occurred in two phases: an initial intervention focused on nursing education only, and a subsequent intervention that included nursing and physician education.

Results: During the study period, 460 patients were intubated in the ED and met inclusion/exclusion criteria. Prior to the first intervention, the average rate of analgesia administration was 57.3%; after the second intervention, the rate was 94.9% (P <0.01). Prior to the first intervention, average time to analgesia administration was 36.0 minutes; after the second intervention, the time was 16.6 minutes (P value <0.01).

Conclusion: This QI intervention demonstrates the ability of education interventions alone to increase the rate of analgesia administration and reduce the time to analgesia in post-intubation patients.

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