HOSPITAL BLUES


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For months, we’ve been hearing hyper-ventilated calls from political leaders and mainstream media about the emergency crisis caused by lack of ventilators to handle coronavirus patients with the most severe symptoms.
Now that hard data and firm science is starting to emerge, it turns out the safety and health advantages of ventilators for COVID-19 have themselves been hyper-ventilated.
In New York City, which has been the epicenter of the virus in the United States, now health officials are saying about 80 percent of patients who were put on ventilators have died. This coincides with similar data on ventilators from around the world, including China and the UK.
According to Dr. Tiffany Osborn, critical care specialist at Washington University School of Medicine, “The ventilator itself can do damage to the lung tissue based on how much pressure is required to help oxygen get processed by the lungs.”
Dr. Negin Hajizadeh, a critical care physician in NYC, explained that while ventilators often work effectively for certain ailments such as severe pneumonia, they aren’t nearly as successful when used with coronavirus patients. She followed up by noting the majority of coronavirus patients, to her knowledge, had not recovered after using a ventilator.
There is some data from the Wuhan province in China where the COVID-19 virus originated. One report revealed that out of 37 seriously ill patients who used ventilators, 30 had died within 30 days. A study out of Seattle showed only one patient over 70 who had been on a ventilator recovered.
The ventilator issue gets more complex when looking at the long-term harm it can cause. When on a ventilator, patients need to be sedated with relatively strong sedatives. The sedation has caused permanent damage, primarily respiratory and cognitive, in a number of patients.
Dr. Muriel Gillick of Harvard Medical School, after reviewing ventilator data, said, “We need to ask, are we using ventilators in a way that makes sense for other diseases but not for this one?” Gillick continued, “Instead of asking how do we ration a scarce resource, we should be asking how do we best treat this disease?”
Dr. Eddy Fan, who specializes in respiratory illnesses at Toronto General Hospital adds, “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.”
Among the concerns now being revealed is how the forced level of oxygen creates a pathway for other dangerous germs… as a number of those on ventilators have gotten completely different infections.
Since some coronavirus patients must get more oxygen into their lungs, Dr. Greg Martin at Emory University School of Medicine is recommending a simpler, less invasive protocol: nasal cannulas, which are tubes held beneath the nostrils.
According to Dr. Martin, “Most hospitals, including ours, are using simpler, noninvasive strategies first.”
Other less intrusive strategies include having patients lie in different positions to help parts of the lungs take in air more effectively. And some doctors are giving patients nitrous oxide, known as laughing gas, which has proven to be effective for adding oxygen to blood flow.
Despite the ineffectiveness and dangers of mechanical ventilators for coronavirus patients, politicians are still making headlines to show they are fighting to get more ventilators into hospitals in their jurisdictions.
USA Today ran this April 4 headline: “Governors warn of dire ventilator shortages as virus pandemic rages.”
Three weeks ago, as he began making the national headlines, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo loudly complained the state was short on ventilators and the federal government wasn’t doing its job:
“FEMA says, ‘We’re sending 400 ventilators.’ Really? What am I going to do with 400 ventilators, when I need 30,000?”
“You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators,” Cuomo added.
“You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators? You’re missing the magnitude of the problem, and the problem is defined by the magnitude,” declared Cuomo.
TRENDPOST: When stating “What am ‘I’ going to do with 400 ventilators, when I need 30,000,” Cuomo makes it perfectly clear it is what he wants, rather than what is needed and/or asked for by hospital administrators… and emphasizing what “I” need insinuates that he will also be treating COVID-19 patients when he is not playing Governor.
Moreover, the “magnitude” of the problem is well exaggerated, since Cuomo has also noted that 26,000 New Yorkers were going to die of the virus because there were not enough ventilators. To date, some 10,000 people in New York State died, and there have been no reports the deaths were caused by lack of ventilators.

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