What are signs of impending respiratory failure that require rapid sequence intubation (RSI)?

Updated: Apr 07, 2020
  • Author: Keith A Lafferty, MD; Chief Editor: Guy W Soo Hoo, MD, MPH  more...
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Answer

The decision to intubate is sometimes difficult. Clinical experience is required to recognize signs of impending respiratory failure. Patients who require intubation have at least one of the following five indications:

  • Inability to maintain airway patency
  • Inability to protect the airway against aspiration
  • Failure to ventilate
  • Failure to oxygenate
  • Anticipation of a deteriorating course that will eventually lead to respiratory failure

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