KEY POINTS

  • Total number of COVID-19 cases in the US now stands at 245,193 patients
  • As cases climb, hospitals are starting to plead for more ventilators
  • Studies have shown ventilators may not even be the total solution

Coronavirus infection cases in the United States have reached a staggering 245,193. Hospitals are overflowing, and the health care system is nearing its breaking point. There is also a massive demand for ventilators to aid patients who have difficulty in breathing.

coronavirus patient on ventilator Coronavirus patient on ventilator Photo: Simon Orlob - Pixabay

According to several small studies in Europe, China, and the US, however, many of the COVID-19 patients who ended up on ventilators eventually die. As it turns out, many of these patients cannot even be taken off the mechanical breathing machines as they are unable to breathe on their own.

A Disturbing Situation

Dr. Tiffany Osborn has been caring for COVID-19 patients at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. She said that it is very disturbing to see the number of patients requiring ventilation who are not able to make it out of the hospital. Dr. Osborn is a critical care specialist at Washington University in St. Louis.

Negin Hajizadeh, a pulmonary critical care doctor on Long Island, NY. echoed the concern of Dr. Osborn. Dr. Hajizadeh said that they had some patients who were able to come off their ventilators, “but the vast majority are not able to.” Dr. Hajizadeh is with the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell on Long Island.

Mortality of COVID-19 Patients On Ventilators

The biggest study to examine the mortality among patients of COVID-19 and who are on ventilators was conducted by the Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre in London. Researchers found that of the 98 patients on ventilators in the UK, only 33 of them were discharged alive.

In a similar study, this time from Wuhan in China, the results are grimmer, with only three out of 22 ventilated patients surviving the deadly disease. Still another study, this time conducted by American researchers, found that of the 18 ventilated patients in the state of Washington, only nine were still alive. At the end of the study, however, there are only a total of six COVID-19 patients who have recovered fully and can breathe on their own.

What Studies Say

Previous studies have suggested that once COVID-19 patients are put on a ventilator, there may be a need for them to stay on it for several weeks. What is disturbing about these studies is that the longer these patients remain on the breathing device, the higher is the likelihood that they will die.

According to Dr. Osborn, she is not sure how much help these devices are going to be. She said that it might keep patients alive for the time being. There is no assurance, however, if the machine is going to help keep a patient alive in the long term.