8 May 2020

Airway management and intubation guidelines for COVID-19

A/Prof David Brewster is lead author on MJA
publication for COVID-19 airway management
COVID-19 is shorthand for 'SARS-COV-2' - that is, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Those patients who get sick enough with COVID-19 to need care in intensive care units (ICU) have profoundly congested lungs, and need highly specialised care and often, intervention.

Associate Professor David Brewster is lead author of national guidelines for airway management and intubation for COVID-19, published in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) on 1 May.

A/Prof Brewster is Deputy Director of Cabrini Health ICU, and a practising specialist in both anaesthesia and intensive care medicine. He worked as one of 14 national experts from the Safe Airway Society of Australia and New Zealand.

The MJA article has already had 48 citations after only one month since preprint release.

A/Prof Brewster said, "This guideline has been used to train all staff in emergency departments, intensive care unit and anaesthesia over the last month in almost all hospitals in Australia. The impact of this is wide, as it has allowed a universal approach to intubation and implementation of mechanical ventilation of the COVID-19 patient group. This means that processes have been consistent across departments and hospitals, which improves the safety of our healthcare workers."

Many other countries have now adopted this document as their national guidelines as well.

It was endorsed by all major societies and specialty colleges including ANZICS, ASA, ACEM, ANZCA, CICM on release which enabled immediate dissemination of the guidelines widely across Aust/NZ.

Brewster DJ, Chrimes N, Do TB, et al. Consensus statement: Safe Airway Society principles of airway management and tracheal intubation specific to the COVID-19 adult patient group [published online ahead of print, 2020 May 1]. Med J Aust. 2020;10.5694/mja2.50598. doi:10.5694/mja2.50598

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