Implementation and evaluation of a multidisciplinary difficult airway response team

Marietta Tan, Alexander T. Hillel, James H. Clark, Lynette Mark, Lauren Berkow, Eugenie Heitmiller, Renee Cover, John Carey, Nasir Bhatti, Paul W. Flint

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective: Difficult airways are both a challenge to the provider and a source of morbidity and mortality to the patient. We sought to demonstrate the effectiveness of a multidisciplinary Difficult Airway Response Team (DART) initiative in improving our hospital's responses to difficult airway emergencies. The goals were to 1) improve coordination of resources, including personnel and equipment; 2) identify system defects and apply safety programs to improve patient care; and 3) ensure sustainability through an educational program and simulations. Study design: Descriptive and retrospective database analysis. Methods: Root-cause analysis of airway sentinel events at our institution revealed lack of a systematic approach to communication of and response to difficult airways. A multidisciplinary DART was therefore implemented to provide a systemsbased approach to airway safety. Outcomes including surgical airways and sentinel events were studied. Results: There were 65 DART calls in Year 1 and 58 calls in Year 2. Emergency surgical airways decreased from three in Year 1 to two in Year 2, compared to at least six in the preceding three years. There have been no sentinel events in the two years since the initiative began. Conclusions: At our institution, a multidisciplinary difficult airway response team has been effective in improving management of airway emergencies, improving hospital safety through practice-based learning and a systems-based approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S263
Issue numberSUPPL. 5
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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