Characteristics and critical care interventions in drowning patients treated by the Danish Air Ambulance from 2016 to 2021: a nationwide registry-based study with 30-day follow-up

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Background: Improving oxygenation and ventilation in drowning patients early in the field is critical and may be lifesaving. The critical care interventions performed by physicians in drowning management are poorly described. The aim was to describe patient characteristics and critical care interventions with 30-day mortality as the primary outcome in drowning patients treated by the Danish Air Ambulance. Methods: This retrospective cohort study with 30-day follow-up identified drowning patients treated by the Danish Air Ambulance from January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2021. Drowning patients were identified using a text-search algorithm (Danish Drowning Formula) followed by manual review and validation. Operational and medical data were extracted from the Danish Air Ambulance database. Descriptive analyses were performed comparing non-fatal and fatal drowning incidents with 30-day mortality as the primary outcome. Results: Of 16,841 dispatches resulting in a patient encounter in the six years, the Danish Drowning Formula identified 138 potential drowning patients. After manual validation, 98 drowning patients were included in the analyses, and 82 completed 30-day follow-up. The prehospital and 30-day mortality rates were 33% and 67%, respectively. The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics severity scores from 4 to 7, indicating a critical emergency, were observed in 90% of the total population. They were significantly higher in the fatal versus non-fatal group (p < 0.01). At least one critical care intervention was performed in 68% of all drowning patients, with endotracheal intubation (60%), use of an automated chest compression device (39%), and intraosseous cannulation (38%) as the most frequently performed interventions. More interventions were generally performed in the fatal group (p = 0.01), including intraosseous cannulation and automated chest compressions. Conclusions: The Danish Air Ambulance rarely treated drowning patients, but those treated were severely ill, with a 30-day mortality rate of 67% and frequently required critical care interventions. The most frequent interventions were endotracheal intubation, automated chest compressions, and intraosseous cannulation.

TidsskriftScandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine
Antal sider11
StatusUdgivet - 2024

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the Danish Drowning Validation Group for developing the Danish Drowning Formula in 2023, which was used in this study [12]. All Danish Drowning Validation Group members are affiliated with Prehospital Center Region Zealand, Næstved, Denmark: Niklas Breindahl, Signe A. Wolthers, Theo W. Jensen, and Mathias G. Holgersen.

Funding Information:
Open access funding provided by Copenhagen University This study was supported by the Danish foundation TrygFonden. TrygFonden did not influence trial design, data collection, analysis, interpretation, writing, or decision to submit the manuscript for publication. JS has a clinical professorship funded by the Norwegian Air Ambulance Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.

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