Date Published: April 7, 2020
Source: The Toronto Star
Ontario doctors are learning first hand how much is unknown regarding COVID-19 (e.g. variation in symptoms, who becomes critically ill and why a number of younger people are in ICUs). Front-line doctors have been repeatedly looking to the scientific literature for COVID-19 updates. For practical advice on treating COVID-19, a website made available by William Osler Health System through contributions of physicians and scientists has been developed (https://covidcriticalcare.ca/).
Although most will have mild symptoms that can be managed at home, it can be difficult to determine which COVID-19 patient needs to be admitted to hospital. COVID-19 patients are admitted if they have oxygen levels below a safe threshold. Vital signs are monitored and patients are rushed to the ICU if they are unable to get enough oxygen even with supplemental oxygen. An added challenge with COVID-19 is the quick deterioration of some patients. Ideally, patients could be intubated pre-emptively, before it is life-threatening. However, there is concern if the outbreak overwhelms hospitals, there will be a less monitored environment. Once a COVID-19 patient requires mechanical ventilation, current numbers show only 30% survive. Furthermore, most hospitals are restricting families from visiting the ICU. It is for this reason, people are encouraged to discuss with their loved ones what they would want if they were to become critically ill.
Summary by: Jayoti Rana