Hospitals were told by the Trump administration that they can start splitting ventilators between two patients as there is a scarcity of machines amid the coronavirus pandemic.
An open letter to health care workers from Surgeon General Jerome Adams and Adm. Brett Giroir says that doing this should “only be considered as an absolute last resort,” however, the letter emphasizes the concerns among public officials and hospital workers about the lack of available ventilators.
“Such a strategy should only be considered as an absolute last resort, judged against the alternatives of long term ‘hand bagging’ or death,” Adams and Giroir wrote. “These decisions must be made on an individual institution, care-provider, and patient level. However, we do know that many institutions are evaluating this practice, and protocols are being developed and tested, and in some places, preliminarily implemented.”
Health officials in New York will allow hospitals to split ventilators between two patients as they try to deal with the influx of patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. https://t.co/FI22yOb43K
— KFI AM 640 (@KFIAM640) March 28, 2020
Fox News explains that the practice of spitting ventilators “is currently being used in some Italian hospitals that are overrun by patients with COVID-19 and it’s been reported that at least one hospital in New York City – the current epicenter of the virus in the United States with more than 38,000 confirmed cases – has put patients on split ventilators.”
However, some medical associations are against the idea. “Even in ideal circumstances, ventilating a single patient with [Acute respiratory distress syndrome] and nonhomogenous lung disease is diﬃcult and is associated with a 40 percent – 60 percent mortality rate,” a statement from the medical associations said. “Attempting to ventilate multiple patients with COVID-19, given the issues described here, could lead to poor outcomes and high mortality rates for all patients cohorted.”
Ventilators are in demand across the U.S. as respiratory problems are common among COVID-19 patients.