Research

A cross-sectional observational study of endotracheal intubation and extubation practices among doctors treating adult COVID-19 and suspected COVID-19 patients in South Africa

K Naidoo, S Spijkerman, J Wyngaard, H de Menezes-Williams, C Janse van Rensburg

Abstract


Background. Patients with severe COVID-19 may require endotracheal intubation. Unique adjustments to endotracheal intubation and extubation practices are necessary to decrease the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission to healthcare workers (HCWs) while avoiding complications of airway management.
Objectives. To investigate the practice of endotracheal intubation and extubation, resources available and complications encountered by clinicians performing endotracheal intubation and extubation of COVID-19 and suspected COVID-19 patients in South Africa (SA). Method. A cross-sectional observational study was conducted during the initial surge of COVID-19 cases in SA. Data were collected by means of a self-administered questionnaire completed by clinicians in the private and public healthcare sectors after performing an endotracheal intubation and/or extubation of a patient with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.

Results. Data from 135 endotracheal intubations and 45 extubations were collected. Anaesthetists accounted for 87.0% (n=120) of the study participants, specialist clinicians in their respective fields for 59.4% (n=82), and public HCWs for 71.0% (n=98). Cases from Gauteng Province made up 76.8% (n=106) of the database. Haemoglobin desaturation was the most frequent complication encountered during endotracheal intubation (40.0%; n=54). Endotracheal intubations performed at private healthcare institutions were associated with a significantly lower complication rate of 17.5% (n=7) compared with 52.6% (n=50) in the public healthcare sector (p<0.001). Endotracheal intubations performed in theatre had the lowest complication rate of 10.4% (n=5; p<0.001). Propofol was used in 90 endotracheal intubations (66.7%), and its use was associated with fewer complications relative to other induction agents. Minimising the number of intubation attempts (p=0.009) and the use of checklists (p=0.013) significantly reduced the frequency of complications encountered during endotracheal intubation. Intravenous induction technique, neuromuscular blocking agent used, intubating device used and time at which intubation was performed did not affect the incidence of complications. The majority of endotracheal extubations were uncomplicated (88.9%).

Conclusions. The study provides valuable insight into the resources used by clinicians and complications encountered when endotracheal intubations and/or extubations were performed. Data from this study may be used to guide future clinical practice and research, especially in resource-limited settings.


Authors' affiliations

K Naidoo, Department of Anaesthesiology, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa

S Spijkerman, Department of Anaesthesiology, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa

J Wyngaard, Department of Anaesthesiology, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa

H de Menezes-Williams, Department of Anaesthesiology, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa

C Janse van Rensburg, Biostatistics Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Pretoria, South Africa

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Keywords

COVID-19; Airway; Coronavirus; Intubation; Extubation; Healthcare workers

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2022;112(1):40-48.

Article History

Date submitted: 2022-02-02
Date published: 2022-02-02

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