Pediatric respiratory therapists lack a standard mental model for managing the patient who is difficult to ventilate: A video review

Julianne S. Perretta, Cheryl Salamone, Daenna King, Stacey Mann, Jordan Duval-Arnould, Elizabeth A. Hunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: All health-care providers who care for infants and children should be able to effectively provide ventilation with a bag and a mask. Respiratory therapists (RTs’), as part of rapid response teams, need to quickly identify the need for airway support and use adjunct airway interventions when subjects are difficult to mask ventilate. Before implementation of an educational curriculum for airway management, we assessed whether pediatric RTs’ who enter the room of a simulated infant mannequin in severe respiratory distress are able to apply bag-mask ventilation within 60 s and implement 2 adjunct airway maneuvers in a patient who is difficult to ventilate. METHODS: All pediatric RTs’ were required to attend one high-fidelity simulation at the Johns Hopkins Medicine Simulation Center. The sessions were reviewed to evaluate whether the therapists would implement adjunct maneuvers to a patient who was in respiratory distress and was difficult to ventilate. RESULTS: Twenty-eight therapists participated in the baseline skills assessment session, and 26 (72% of eligible therapists) were evaluable with video clips. Only 3 of 26 (12%) attempted bag-mask ventilation within 60 s. Although all the therapists attempted one airway maneuver, only 65% were able to implement >2 airway maneuvers and achieve effective ventilation, with a wide range of time (98–298 s). There was no pattern regarding which intervention was implemented first, second, and so forth. CONCLUSIONS: Our team of pediatric RTs’ did not share a standard mental model for initiating bag-mask ventilation during impending respiratory failure or implementing airway adjuncts. This may place children who are critically ill at risk of subop-timal management and threaten clinical outcomes. Therapist performance indicated that no established care algorithm had been effectively implemented or that skill retention was poor. A change in the content and delivery method of bag-mask ventilation training is warranted to improve the time to performance of key interventions and to establish a clear cognitive framework of difficult mask ventilation management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)801-808
Number of pages8
JournalRespiratory care
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019


  • Airway assessment
  • Bag-mask ventilation
  • Difficult mask ventilation
  • Educational curriculum
  • High-fidelity simulation
  • Respiratory therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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