Some hospitals have reported high death rates for COVID-19. patients on ventilators and some doctors worry that the machines could be putting some patients at risk. Ventilator exerts pressure on the lungs, which many elderly patients can't handle. Using a ventilator involves sedating a patient and sticking a tube into the throat.
In general, 40% to 50% of patients with severe respiratory distress die while on ventilators. 80% of coronavirus patients placed on the machines in New York have died.
Similarly, the UK reported that 66% of oof patients placed on machines have died. Some patients are becoming completely dependent on them to breathe.
Ventilators are complex machines and require experience to operate as the amount of airflow and pressure can be different for each. Some doctors think that ventilators are being overused even for those who don't need them.
Expert says that patients with bacterial pneumonia may be on a ventilator for 1 or 2 days. Coronavirus patients are placed on a ventilator for up to 15 days and this is one of the reasons why ventilators could grow in short supply. Instead, they recommend the use of oxygen therapy as well.
This doesn't mean ventilators are useless, it just means other options should also be considered depending on the needs and conditions of each patient.
Some experts speculate that ventilators might ignite a harmful immune system reaction. Medical ventilation may also worsen lung injury. The dangers of ventilators can be reduced by limiting the amount of pressure and the size of breaths provided by the machine.
Some physicians are trying other measures to allow different parts of the lung to aerate better. These include having patients lie in different positions.
Doctors are still exploring the best ways to manage the novel coronavirus as they rely on real-time data and deal with more cases and shortages of basic supplies.