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Is protocol-driven COVID-19 respiratory therapy doing more harm than good?

Excerpt

Physicians in the COVID-19 trenches are beginning to question whether standard respiratory therapy protocols for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) are the best approach for treating patients with COVID-19 pneumonia.

At issue is the standard use of ventilators for a virus whose presentation has not followed the standard for ARDS, but is looking more like high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) in some patients.

In a letter to the editor published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine on March 30, and in an editorial accepted for publication in Intensive Care Medicine, Luciano Gattinoni, MD, of the Medical University of Göttingen in Germany and colleagues make the case that protocol-driven ventilator use for patients with COVID-19 could be doing more harm than good.

Dr. Gattinoni noted that COVID-19 patients in ICUs in northern Italy had an atypical ARDS presentation with severe hypoxemia and well-preserved lung gas volume. He and colleagues suggested that instead of high positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP), physicians should consider the lowest possible PEEP and gentle ventilation–practicing patience to “buy time with minimum additional damage.”

SOURCE: The Hospitalist