In an appearance on Fox & Friends on Sunday, Fox News medical contributor Dr. Nicole Saphier said that coronavirus patients currently on ventilators would soon need to be removed, Raw Story reported. Although Saphier acknowledged some would not yet be able to breathe on their own, she suggested that such a course of action is necessary and will lead to more deaths.
“There’s going to be more deaths this coming week,” Saphier said.
Although Saphier claimed the rates of coronavirus hospitalization are declining, which she said is “a good thing,” she predicted that more deaths are coming due to people on ventilators in intensive care units, who remain there for anywhere from one to four weeks. At some point, Saphier said, these people will have to be removed from such support.
“And they’re either going to survive or they’re either going to die. Some of the mortality rates coming out of China are ranging from 60 to 90 percent of people on the ventilators [who die]. Thankfully, here in the United States, that number varies.”
As reported by NPR, small studies from the United States, China, and Europe suggest that most COVID-19 patients on ventilators eventually die. Even among those who continue to live, many need mechanical breathing machines for the remainder of their lives.
Dr. Tiffany Osborn, a critical care specialist who has been aiding coronavirus patients at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, expressed concern over the statistic. This concern was echoed by Negin Hajizadeh, a pulmonary critical care doctor at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine.
“We have had several patients between the hospitals across the Northwell system that have come off the breathing machine. But the vast majority are unable to,” Hajizadeh said.
According to The Guardian, in the United Kingdom, some patients who are stable on ventilators face the possibility of being taken off in favor of others more likely to survive. The option was outlined in a British Medical Association document, which proposed guidelines for doctors who need to ration care in the case that the National Health Service becomes overwhelmed by coronavirus patients.
In general, NPR claims that the longer a patient is on a ventilator, the more likely it is that they will die. The devices are used for patients whose lungs cannot provide the body with enough oxygen. According to Osborn, they are an “extreme measure” taken for particularly severe cases.
To make matters worse, many COVID-19 patients reportedly face ventilator-associated pneumonia in addition to complications with the novel virus.