Ventilator use has been a topic of ongoing conversation since the COVID-19 virus was declared a pandemic. From states touting that they need thousands of ventilators to treat patients with the virus to nursing staff showing that they simply don't have enough, most of society has grown to believe that ventilator use for COVID-19 is just a necessity. However, some of the latest information coming out is making it look like ventilator use may not be the best idea, so here is a look at what is known and what is still up for questions when it comes to using ventilators to treat people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Ventilators provide life-sustaining oxygen when a patient can't breathe on their own.
Mechanical ventilators have been a go-to resource for medical care professionals for a really long time. These machines are designed to help an individual get oxygen into their lungs, blood, and body when they are not breathing enough on their own to get what the body requires. An endotracheal tube is inserted to get the oxygen directly into the lungs by means of increasing the pressure in the patient's airway. Individuals with respiratory illnesses sometimes must have these medical machines in order to survive.
Ventilators have been part of COVID-19 care for months.
Early on during the pandemic, medical providers turned to mechanical ventilators to help patients breathe. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. Patients can develop a range of symptoms when they have the virus, but it is most likely to cause pneumonia-like symptoms than anything else, and the symptoms can be especially severe for patients who are over the age of 65. Once a patient reaches a point where they are not able to get enough oxygen on their own, they may be placed on a ventilator to help them stay alive. While ventilators were being used much earlier at the beginning stages of the illness, some doctors are now prolonging placing patients on ventilators until the condition progresses and it is a life or death situation.
Ventilators have not been proven to cause harm to coronavirus patients.
Since ventilators are used on patients now that are already in pretty bad shape, it is not uncommon for a patient to be on a ventilator and pass away. In one study, about one out of four patients who were placed on ventilators did pass away in spite of ventilator treatment. This has led to some miscalculation among the public about ventilators being in some way harmful, but the reality is, patients on these ventilators are already experiencing the major effects of the illness, and many of them may not have made it with or without intubation.
To learn more about ventilator use for COVID-19 patients, contact a lung doctor.