At least one New York hospital has begun putting two patients on a single ventilator machine, an experimental crisis-mode protocol some doctors worry is too risky but others deemed necessary as the coronavirus outbreak strains medical resources.
The coronavirus causes a respiratory illness called COVID-19 that in severe cases can ravage the lungs. It has killed at least 281 people over a few weeks in New York City, which is struggling with one of the largest caseloads in the world at nearly 22,000 confirmed cases.
A tool of last resort that involves threading a tube down a patient’s windpipe, a mechanical ventilator can sustain a person who can no longer breathe unaided. The city only has a few thousand and is trying to find tens of thousands more.
Community Interviews with Moose FM
Dr. Craig Smith, surgeon-in-chief at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan, wrote in a newsletter to staff that anesthesiology and intensive care teams had worked “day and night” to get the split-ventilation experiment going.
Story continues below advertisement
1:04Coronavirus outbreak: New York confirms 6,400 new COVID-19 cases
Coronavirus outbreak: New York confirms 6,400 new COVID-19 cases
By Wednesday, he wrote, there were “two patients being carefully managed on one ventilator.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo,