Doctors may be inadvertently sending patients to their graves by ventilating them too soon, according to an Associated Press report.
The report quoted medical experts as saying that 40 or 50 percent of patients with severe respiratory distress die while on ventilators, with some hospitals recording significantly higher numbers.
For example in New York City, regarded as the epicentre of coronavirus pandemic in the United States, at least 80 percent of coronavirus patients have died after being put on a ventilator.
Quoting Dr Albert Rizzo, the American Lung Association’s chief medical officer, the report stated that higher-than-normal death rates have been recorded elsewhere across the country. There is also a similar trend in China and the UK. While 66 percent of coronavirus patients died after being put on a ventilator in the UK, according to a study, another study found that 86 percent of patients in Wuhan, China lost their lives after being put on the machines.
While the reasons for these deaths have not been established, some experts say it could be traced to the condition the patients were in pre-infection and prior to being put on the ventilators.
Yet others say that the breathing machines may not be entirely blameless.
Quoting a Canadian respiratory treatment specialist, Dr Eddy Fan, the report stated that mechanical ventilation is not “benign”.
Fan, who works with the Toronto General Hospital, said, “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.”
According to Wikipedia, a ventilator is a machine that provides mechanical ventilation by moving breathable air into and out of the lungs, to deliver breaths to a patient who is physically unable to breathe, or breathing insufficiently.
While Fan said that medical personnel can reduce the damage to patients by limiting the amount of pressure and the size of breaths delivered by the machine, the staggering fatality rates have encouraged more doctors to seek alternatives to the breathing machine.
Some of the other options being explored include having patients lie in different positions to allow the lungs aerate better and passing oxygen to patients through nose tubes or other devices.
Yet other doctors are treating patients with nitric acid to help improve blood flow and oxygen to the least damaged parts of the lungs.