The DAS Airway Alert Card and Difficult Airway Database project is our attempt to provide a streamlined airway alert reporting system that is coupled with an alert card and difficult airway database.

Background:

A difficult airway scenario is a very rare and potentially life threatening event for the patient and is also a stressful experience for the anaesthetist involved in patient’s care. Often this is an unanticipated situation. 

If a patient has had a difficult airway event, it is vital that anaesthetists disseminate this information to patients and their GPs. This can be life saving when patient goes on to have another operation or procedure at a later date. There is currently no nationally prevalent system that would make this possible.

Although DAS has carried an Airway Alert Form on its website for a number of years, we currently do not have data on how widely this is used. Moreover an airway alert form given to patient can easily be misplaced or lost which will result in loss of this potentially life saving information. 

Ideally critical information about a difficult airway should be recorded in such a way that it is reliably available 24/7 and should follow the patient wherever he or she goes for the next operation or anaesthetic.

This project aims to address this issue by providing a simple and easy reporting system that would not only make it easy to report but also ensure availability of this information around the clock. 

Purpose of the project:

Difficult Airway Society aims to address this issue by

  • Issuing an ‘Airway Alert Card’ much like a medical bracelet to patients who have had a difficult airway. Patients can carry this and present it to the anaesthetist for their next operation.

  • Create an internet accessible linked-anonymised database with further detailed information about the airway episode. The database would be accessible to authorised doctors upon entering a code printed on the airway alert card or using NHS number.

  • Provide a completely anonymised version of the above data for research purposes – the collected data over a period of time would be invaluable in understanding and developing safer techniques of managing patients airway.

  
Image of airway alert card

Overview - How will the process work?

How do I provide my patient with an airway alert card?

If you have a patient with difficult airway (anticipated or unanticipated) all you have to do is 

  • Decide if the information you have about the patient's airway incident will be helpful for future anaesthetic of the patient.
  • If so download consent from DAS website and consent the patient. This is needed for information governance purposes as patient's personal and clinical information is sent outside your trust.
  • Fill out an online airway alert form with details of the difficult airway incident.

How will DAS process this information ?

  1. The personal identifiers you submit will be used by DAS to print and post a DAS Airway Alert Card to the patient. The personal patient identifiers will not be stored online and will be held by DAS in an offline database. 

  2. The clinical information is separated and stored in the online database.

  3. A unique access code will be automatically generated (alphanumeric) on the DAS website and printed one the DAS Airway Alert card. This code will link the clinical information with the patient.

  4. You will also be presented with a printable version of the questionnaire that can be filed in patient notes.  A template letter for communication to GP can also be downloaded and sent to patient's GP.

How can this information be accessed ?

  1. When a patient produces this card for a future anaesthetic in any hospital in the UK the clinicians can immediatley look at the key information printed on the card.

  2. If further information and full details of the incident are needed then the clinician  can logon to the online difficult airway database and access this data with either the unique 'access code' contained in the card or with patient's NHS number.

  3. A doctor wishing to access the database must logon to DAS website. If you are a DAS member you can log on to the website using your existing account. Others can register for the access. Registration is free. 

Where can I access the project related documents ?

Click on the following links to access the project related documents.

How to join the project

FAQ for Doctors

FAQ for Information Governance

Patient information letter and consent form

 

Dr K Ponnusamy
Consultant Anaesthetist, East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, Kent 

Dr Achuthan Sajayan
Consultant Anaesthetist, Heart of England NHS Trust, Birmingham

Dr Fauzia Mir
Consultant Anaesthetist, St George's University Hospital
 

Project Leads

Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowlegde the work of Dr. Toby Winterbottom, ST4 Anaesthetics, Royal Surrey County Hospital and Dr. Sarah Marstin, Consultant Anaesthetist, Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth who came up with an idea and design for an airway alert card. 

We would like to thank the current and past committee members of DAS for supporting us wholehearteldy with this project.