By using ventilators more sparingly on Covid-19 patients, physicians could reduce the more-than-50% death rate for those put on the machines, according to an analysis published Tuesday in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. The authors argue that physicians need a new playbook for when to use ventilators for Covid-19 patients — a message consistent with new treatment guidelines issued Tuesday by the National Institutes of Health, which advocates a phased approach to breathing support that would defer the use of ventilators if possible. As the pandemic has flooded hospitals with a disease that physicians had never before seen, health care workers have had to figure out treatment protocols on the fly. Starting this month, a few physicians have voiced concern that some hospitals have been too quick to put Covid-19 patients on mechanical ventilators, that elderly patients in particular may have been harmed more than helped, and that less invasive breathing support, including simple oxygen-delivering nose prongs, might be safer and more effective.

 

Billy Hathorn [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

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