Emerg Med J doi:10.1136/emermed-2012-201578
  • Original article

Prehospital non-drug assisted intubation for adult trauma patients with a Glasgow Coma Score less than 9

  1. William Pickett1
  1. 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Queen's University, Kingston General Hospital and Hotel Dieu Hospital, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Christopher Charles Douglas Evans, Department of Emergency Medicine, Queen's University Kingston General Hospital and Hotel Dieu Hospital, c/o 76 Stuart Street, Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 2V7; c.evans{at}
  • Accepted 30 September 2012
  • Published Online First 10 November 2012


Objectives Prehospital airway management for adult trauma patients remains controversial. We sought to review the frequency that paramedic non-drug assisted intubation or attempted intubation is performed for trauma patients in Ontario, Canada, and determine its association with mortality.

Methods We conducted a retrospective cohort study using the Ontario Trauma Registry's Comprehensive Data Set for 2002–2009. Eligible patients were greater than 16 years of age, had an initial Glasgow Coma Score of less than 9 and were cared for by ground-based non-critical care paramedics. The primary outcome was mortality. Outcomes were compared between patients undergoing prehospital intubation versus basic airway management. Logistic regression analyses were used to quantify the association between prehospital intubation and mortality.

Results Of the 2229 patients included in the analysis, 671 (30.1%) underwent prehospital intubation. Annual rates of prehospital intubation declined from 33.7% to 14.0% (ptrend<0.0001) over the study period. Unadjusted death rates were 66.0% versus 34.8% in the intubation and basic airway groups, respectively (p<0.0001). Intubation in the prehospital setting was associated with a heightened risk of mortality (adjusted OR 2.8, 95% CI 1.1 to 7.6).

Conclusions Prehospital non-drug assisted intubation for trauma is being performed less frequently in Ontario, Canada. Within our study population, paramedic non-drug assisted intubation or attempted intubation was associated with a heightened risk of mortality.

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Among patients with minor TBI (GCS 13-15) getting CT scans ≥ 24 hours after injury, what proportion have a traumatic finding?


0.5% - 43% response rate
3% - 41% response rate
10% - 16% response rate

Related original article: PCT head imaging in patients with head injury who present after 24 h of injury: a retrospective cohort study

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