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We examined the effect of advanced preparation and organisation of equipment and drugs for Pre-hospital Emergency Anaesthesia (PHEA) and tracheal intubation on procedural time, error rates, and cognitive load.
This study was a randomised, controlled experiment with a crossover design. Clinical teams (physician and paramedic) from the Emergency Medical Retrieval Service and the Scottish Air Ambulance Division were randomised to perform a standardised pre-hospital clinical simulation using either unprepared (standard practice) or pre-prepared (experimental method) PHEA equipment and drugs. Following a two-week washout period, each team performed the corresponding simulation. The primary outcome was intervention time. Secondary outcomes were safety-related incidents and errors, and degree of cognitive load.
In total 23 experiments were completed, 12 using experimental method and 11 using standard practice. Time required to perform PHEA using the experimental method was significantly shorter than with standard practice (11,45 versus 20:59) minutes: seconds; p = < 0.001). The experimental method also significantly reduced procedural errors (0 versus 9, p = 0.007) and the cognitive load experienced by the intubator assistant (41.9 versus 68.7 mm, p = 0.006).
Pre-preparation of PHEA equipment and drugs resulted in safer performance of PHEA and has the potential to reduce on-scene time by up to a third.