Paramedic rapid sequence intubation for severe traumatic brain injury: Perspectives from an expert panel

Daniel P. Davis, Samir M. Fakhry, Henry E. Wang, Eileen M. Bulger, Robert M. Domeier, Arthur L. Trask, Grant V. Bochicchio, William E. Hauda, Linda Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Although early intubation has become standard practice in the prehospital management of severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), many patients cannot be intubated without neuromuscular blockade. Several emergency medical services (EMS) systems have implemented paramedic rapid sequence intubation (RSI) protocols, with published reports documenting apparently conflicting outcomes effects. In response, the Brain Trauma Foundation assembled a panel of experts to interpret the existing literature regarding paramedic RSI for severe TBI and offer guidance for EMS systems considering adding this skill to the paramedic scope of practice. The interpretation of this panel can be summarized as follows: (1) the existing literature regarding paramedic RSI is inconclusive, and apparent differences in outcome can be explained by use of different methodologies and variability in comparison groups; (2) the use of Glasgow Coma Scale score alone to identify TBI patients requiring RSI is limited, with additional research needed to refine our screening criteria; (3) suboptimal RSI technique as well as subsequent hyperventilation may account for some of the mortality increase reported with the procedure; (4) initial and ongoing training as well as experience with RSI appear to affect performance; and (5) the success of a paramedic RSI program is dependent on particular EMS and trauma system characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalPrehospital Emergency Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007


  • Airway management
  • Intubation
  • Neuromuscular blockade
  • Paramedic
  • Prehospital
  • Rapid sequence intubation
  • Traumatic brain injury


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