Assessment of competency during orotracheal intubation in medical simulation.

Garcia J, Coste A, Tavares W, Nuño N, Lachapelle K.



Clinicians performing orotracheal intubation need to be competent to perform this technical skill safely. It is recognized that aggressive force applied during direct laryngoscopy may damage the oropharyngeal soft tissue; however, force is seldom considered in assessment of competency. The objective of this study was to explore the force applied during orotracheal intubation as a method of further discriminating between levels of competence. We sought evidence of construct validity in the form of discriminant, criterion, and concurrent validity. We hypothesized that the force generated during simulated intubation could serve to discriminate skill level among clinicians.


A convenience sample of 35 health-care professionals filled a self-reported questionnaire and were then divided into the following three groups: Group 1, experts (n=16); Group 2, intermediates (n=7); and Group 3, novices (n=12). They then intubated a part-task trainer (Laerdal Airway Management Trainer) after reviewing a procedural video and engaging in one practice session. Intubations were recorded. Outcome measures were as follows: (i) force applied to the epiglottis, calculated (in newtons) using two superimposed pressure-sensitive films (Prescale; Fujifilm, Madison, WI, USA) on the laryngoscope blade; (ii) number of attempts required to achieve successful intubation; (iii) time to intubation; and (iv) hand position.


Of the four outcome measures, only force applied during orotracheal intubation was able to discriminate between groups. All data are reported as the mean (sd). There was a significant difference in force between groups during orotracheal intubation [one-way anova; experts, 102 (25) N; intermediates, 134 (28) N; and novices, 153 (43) N], with a significant difference (P<0.05) noted between novice and experts on post hoc analysis.


Force exerted during intubation provides meaningful information when attempting to discriminate intubation skill level. Force demonstrated criterion validity and could be used as a measure of competency during training.