Improving Emergency Department Airway Preparedness in the Era of COVID-19: An Interprofessional, In Situ Simulation
The target audience for this airway simulation includes all emergency department (ED) staff who are potential members of a COVID-19 intubation team, including emergency medicine attendings, emergency medicine residents, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, and ED technicians.
As of May 7, 2020 there were 1,219,066 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and 73,297 deaths.1 A special report from the Centers for Disease Control and prevention on infections in healthcare personnel reported 9,282 cases between February 12th and April 9th.2 Sars-CoV-2 is a novel virus that requires a careful, coordinated approach to airway management given the high risk of aerosolization.3 It is essential to train ED staff (1) to appropriately care for patients with suspected COVID-19 disease and (2) to provide an organized, safe working environment for providers during high-risk, aerosolizing procedures such as intubation. In addition to providing a set of airway management guidelines, we aimed to educate the staff through participation in a simulation activity. Due to the multiple team members involved and the array of equipment needed, an in-person in situ strategy was implemented. The goals of the simulation were to optimize patient care and minimize viral exposure to those involved during intubation.
At the conclusion of the simulation session, learners will be able to: 1) Understand the need to notify team members of a planned COVID intubation including: physician, respiratory therapist, pharmacist, nurse(s), and ED technician. 2) Distinguish between in-room and out-of-room personnel during high-risk aerosolizing procedures. 3) Distinguish between in-room and out-of-room equipment during high-risk aerosolizing procedures to minimize contamination. 4) Appropriately select oxygenation therapies and avoid high-risk aerosolizing procedures. 5) Manage high risk scenarios such as hypotension or failed intubation and be prepared to give push-dose vasoactive medications or place a rescue device such as an I-gel®.
This is a high-fidelity, interprofessional, in-situ simulation used to train a team of providers that would normally participate in the management of a patient with suspected COVID-19 requiring endotracheal intubation. Participants might include emergency medicine attendings, emergency medicine residents, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, and ED technicians. The patient is best represented by a high-fidelity mannequin such as Trauma HAL® (Miami, FL USA) https://www.gaumard.com/products/ trauma/trauma-halr), with a monitor displaying vital signs and voice-response capabilities. The simulation includes an interprofessional debriefing session, during which an airway checklist, communication strategies, and best practices are reviewed.
Airway management guidelines were developed by an interdisciplinary team at our institution. We used these guidelines from Stanford Health Care and best practices from a literature review to create a checklist of recommended steps. Two assessors used the checklist to track team actions. Any missed items were discussed in the team debrief and participants were encouraged to ask questions. At the end of the session, to check for understanding, participants were provided with a brief anonymous online survey accessed by a QR code. These assessments allowed the simulation team to iteratively edit the case before future simulations.
From 3/23/20-4/23/20, we held 12 in-situ simulations with 62 participants, including emergency medicine physicians, nurses, technicians, respiratory therapists, and pharmacists. Two individuals observed each simulation and compared team performance to the checklist of recommended steps. The actions that were not completed during the simulation served as teaching points during the simulation debrief. The debrief discussions helped to identify misconceptions regarding oxygenation strategies, difficulties in staff communication due to physical barriers, and various other quality or safety concerns. Participant reactions following the simulation and debriefs were overwhelmingly positive.
This simulation was an effective, easy-to-implement method of interprofessional team training for a risk-inherent procedure in the ED. We learned that the deliberate simulation of each step of the COVID19-specific intubation procedure with all team members provided opportunities to identify safety challenges in communication, equipment, and approach. Each debrief stimulated an excellent discussion among team members, and allowed for interprofessional feedback, clarification of questions, and recommendations for areas of improvement. Our main take-away from the pilot of this novel simulation case is that new, high-risk procedures require a coordinated team effort to minimize risks to patients and staff, and that team training is feasible and effective using frequent in situ simulations.
Medical simulation, in-situ simulation, interprofessional, COVID-19, novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, intubation, medical education, health professions education, team training, airway management.