There have already been at least 80 % of New York City's coronavirus patients that have died on ventilators. Though health officials are vocal about promoting the use of ventilators to treat patients, some doctors actually advise against the use of these breathing machines.
The reason for this is that some hospitals have already reported unusually massive death rates for patients on ventilators. Some doctors have started to worry that the machine could actually be harming particular patients. These mechanical ventilators are used to push oxygen into the failing lungs of those patients by using a machine that involves sedating the patient then sticking a tube into their throat.
The need for ventilators
About 40 to 50 percent of patients with this severe respiratory distress actually die while on ventilators according to experts. The American Lung Association's chief medical officer Dr. Albert Rizzo has just recently said that the death rates are higher than normal and have also been reported elsewhere in the United States.
These reports have also started to emerge from both China and the United Kingdom. In fact, one UK report even put the figure at 56 percent. A small study in Wuhan, China, has also put the number at 86%.
The reason is still not clear but it may have something to do with the shape of the patients before the infection. Some experts also say that it could be related to how sick they finally became when they started using ventilators.
Other health professionals have started to question if ventilators are actually helpful or perhaps even igniting or worsening a harmful immune system reaction. Experts actually say that ventilators can eventually be damaging to the patient over time, as the high-pressured oxygen is pumped in the tiny air sacs in the patient's own lungs.
The claim of certain experts
Toronto General Hospital's expert on respiratory treatment Dr. Eddy Fan has said that "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."
Fan explained that the dangers can actually be eased by limiting the amount of pressure and also the size of breaths delivered by the ventilator. Some doctors claim that they are trying their best to keep patients off ventilators for as long as possible by deploying other techniques.
Experts are saying that certain patients with bacterial pneumonia, for example, may only be on the ventilator for about a day or two. The New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that it has been common for these patients to be on a ventilator for "seven days, 10 days, 15 days, and they're passing away."
Another growing problem is the supply for ventilators. Experts are worrying that as the cases grow in number, doctors will then be forced to make quite terrible decisions about who lives and who dies due to the lack of machines.