April 9, 2020


80% of NYC's coronavirus patients who are put on ventilators ultimately die, and some doctors are trying to stop using them (Sinéad Baker, 4/09/20, Business Insider)

Putting a patient on a ventilator is an extreme step saved for the most-affected patients, who typically already have the highest chance of dying from respiratory failure.

The higher death rate could be a direct result of this, as well as the fact that there are so far no drugs that can help fight the coronavirus.

Some doctors are also concerned that ventilators could actually be further harming certain coronavirus patients as the treatment is always hard on lungs, the AP reported.

Dr. Tiffany Osborn, a critical care specialist at Washington University School of Medicine, told NPR on April 1 that ventilators can actually damage patients' lungs.

"The ventilator itself can do damage to the lung tissue based on how much pressure is required to help oxygen get processed by the lungs," she said.

Dr. Negin Hajizadeh, a pulmonary critical care doctor at New York's Hofstra/Northwell School of Medicine, also told NPR that while ventilators work well for people suffering from diseases like pneumonia, they don't necessarily for coronavirus patients.

She said that most coronavirus patients in her hospital system have ultimately not recovered despite being given a ventilator.

She added that the coronavirus does a lot more damage to the lungs than illnesses like the flu, as "there is fluid and other toxic chemical cytokines, we call them, raging throughout the lung tissue."

Dr. Eddy Fan, an expert on respiratory treatment at Toronto General Hospital, told the AP: "We know that mechanical ventilation is not benign."

"One of the most important findings in the last few decades is that medical ventilation can worsen lung injury -- so we have to be careful how we use it."

Posted by at April 9, 2020 12:00 AM