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Archive Anesthesia 2019

True-Life Tales of Trying Airways

Anesthesia experts share their most memorable difficult intubations - and what they learned from their experiences.

Jared Bilski


Pamela Bevelhymer, RN, BSN, CNOR
ALWAYS PREPARED Even in cases where anesthesiologists anticipate a difficult airway and have a plan in place, things can go awry.

When we asked several anesthesiologists to remember back to when they faced challenging intubations, their revelations were honest and insightful. As you read about the cases, consider if your providers have the tools and facility-wide support they need to successfully secure airways in similar scenarios.

1. The career-defining surprise

It was the very last night on call for Carin Hagberg, MD, as chief anesthesiology resident when a Spanish-speaking woman in her late 50s was about to receive general anesthesia for a double mastectomy. Dr. Hagberg didn’t anticipate any issues with the patient’s airway. For good reason. The pre-op exam didn’t reveal obvious issues, and there were no problems noted when the patient was wheeled into the OR. Dr. Hagberg performed a cursory airway exam and proceeded with the induction.

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