More ventilators are being produced daily but who will operate them?
Updated: May 6
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States is manufacturing ventilators at a high rate – and with that, comes the need for specially trained staff to care for the intubated patients who are on the ventilators.
It is expected that about 2% of those contracting COVID-19 will develop respiratory issues severe enough to require them to be put on ventilators, according to a report on National Public Radio.
An alternative to mechanical ventilation is noninvasive ventilation (NIV) via the helmet. This treatment can prove to be a better method on many levels, especially if used early in the treatment.
Helmet-based ventilation will cost less, shorten hospital stays and lower mortality rates, according to a study featured in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.
The same study also found that the use of NIV resulted in lower mortality rates. Researchers found that for optimum results and best outcomes early intervention with NIV is key, as evidence suggests that delayed use of NIV may lead to severe respiratory acidosis and increased mortality.
As opposed to invasive ventilation – intubation – helmet ventilation requires less staffing and puts less stress on the patient. The patient is able to be more independent during their admission, requiring less staff assistance than invasive ventilation.
Noninvasive ventilation can be used in non-ICU hospital settings and emergency departments, whereas invasive ventilation should be used in intensive care units only.
With proper training and early implementation, noninvasive ventilation can result in higher success rates and quicker recoveries at a lower cost. We recommend hospitals create NIV teams with experts in the field, as suggested in BTS/ICS guidelines.