Oxygenation strategies prior to and during prehospital emergency anaesthesia in UK HEMS practice (PREOXY survey).

Boulton, Adam J, Mashru, Amar and Lyon, Richard (2020) Oxygenation strategies prior to and during prehospital emergency anaesthesia in UK HEMS practice (PREOXY survey). Scandinavian journal of trauma, resuscitation and emergency medicine, 28 (1). p. 99. ISSN 1757-7241.


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Maintaining effective oxygenation throughout the process of Pre-Hospital Emergency Anaesthesia (PHEA) is critical. There are multiple strategies available to clinicians to oxygenate patients both prior to and during PHEA. The optimal pre-oxygenation technique remains unclear, and it is unknown what techniques are being used by United Kingdom Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS). This study aimed to determine the current pre- and peri-PHEA oxygenation strategies used by UK HEMS services.


An electronic questionnaire survey was delivered to all UK HEMS services between 05 July and 26 December 2019. Questions investigated service standard operating procedures (SOPs) and individual clinician practice regarding oxygenation strategies prior to airway instrumentation (pre-oxygenation) and oxygenation strategies during airway instrumentation (apnoeic oxygenation). Service SOPs were obtained to corroborate questionnaire replies.


Replies were received from all UK HEMS services (n = 21) and 40 individual clinicians. All services specified oxygenation strategies within their PHEA/RSI SOP and most referred to pre-oxygenation as mandatory (81%), whilst apnoeic oxygenation was mandatory in eight (38%) SOPs. The most commonly identified pre-oxygenation strategies were bag-valve-mask without PEEP (95%), non-rebreathable face mask (81%), and nasal cannula at high flow (81%). Seven (33%) services used Mapleson C circuits, whilst there were eight services (38%) that did not carry bag-valve-masks with PEEP valve nor Mapleson C circuits. All clinicians frequently used pre-oxygenation, however there was variability in clinician use of apnoeic oxygenation by nasal cannula. Nearly all clinicians (95%) reported manually ventilating patients during the apnoeic phase, with over half (58%) stating this was their routine practice. Differences in clinician pre-hospital and in-hospital practice related to availability of humidified high flow nasal oxygenation and Mapleson C circuits.


Pre-oxygenation is universal amongst UK HEMS services and is most frequently delivered by bag-valve-mask without PEEP or non-rebreathable face masks, whereas apnoeic oxygenation by nasal cannula is highly variable. Multiple services carry Mapleson C circuits, however many services are unable to deliver PEEP due to the equipment they carry. Clinicians are regularly manually ventilating patients during the apnoeic phase of PHEA. The identified variability in clinical practice may indicate uncertainty and further research is warranted to assess the impact of different strategies on clinical outcomes.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: WB Practice of medicine > WB400 Intensive care
WO Surgery > WO500 Anaesthesia
Divisions: Clinical Support > Anaesthetics
Clinical Support > Critical Care
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Depositing User: Mr Philip O'Reilly
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2020 11:39
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2020 11:39
URI: http://www.repository.uhblibrary.co.uk/id/eprint/3562

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