With hospitals anticipating a ventilator shortage to treat the oncoming peak of the global coronavirus pandemic, U.S. health officials have issued guidance on standards of potentially sharing ventilators between patients.
Still, this is only in a worst-case scenario and sharing "should only be considered as an absolute last resort," Surgeon General Jerome Adams and Assistant Secretary for Health Administration Brett Giroir wrote in an open letter to healthcare workers.
Fearing an uptick in serious and critical cases, hospitals have talked about potentially sharing ventilators and the Health and Human Services department has issued the technical guidance for doing so.
The guidance noted testing of sharing ventilators has never been tried on humans, so it should be done only "if a hospital cannot provide clinically proven, reliable, and safe methods to manage acute respiratory failure."
Although, according to The Hill, one New York hospital has already started sharing ventilators.
Amid the guidance, governors are criticizing the U.S. coronavirus task force for not helping them stockpile ventilators and PPE (personal protective equipment), but President Donald Trump stressed during the daily press briefing Tuesday the supplies are where they are needed and the U.S. has more stockpiled supplies waiting to be sent to areas of need.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been one of the fiercest critics of Trump before the pandemic and he has called for 40,000 ventilators, which Trump says the state does not need right now. Recently, Trump announced New York was not using the ventilators it was already sent, to which Cuomo said was an emergency stockpile.
Trump stressed again Tuesday, when more ventilators are needed in action – not in reserve – they will be sent.
"To say that to the American people, to make the implication that when they need a hospital bed, it's not going to be there, or when they need that ventilator, it’s not going to be there — we don't have evidence of that right now," Dr. Deborah Birx said last week.
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