Anesthesiologists are a vital asset to health care teams managing COVID-19 patients. However, the procedures that make them most valuable to the team comes with the risk of exposure to COVID-19 more than they already are.
COVID-19 causes severe respiratory issues which causes many patients to be intubated. According to ABC News, intubation is “a lifesaving medical procedure in which doctors force a tube down a patient’s throat, opening the airway and allowing patients to be placed on a ventilator.”
Dr. Odugbesan explains the process in how intubation could be dangerous for anesthesiologists, as per ABC News:
“Dr. Odugbesan notes that before a breathing tube is inserted, the patient receives a sedating medication, and mechanical ventilation is provided with a bag-mask. But that’s when things can get dangerous. Although the virus that causes COVID-19 isn’t normally airborne, it can become “aerosolized” during this process, meaning the virus is kicked up in a fine mist. Once the breathing tube is in place, airway particles can become aerosolized during the brief period of time it takes to connect a patient to the ventilator. Throughout the intubation procedure, which generates the highest risk for droplet exposure, an anesthesiologist’s face is mere inches away from the patient’s mouth. [Anesthesiologists] must also deal with the very real possibility that their face may be the last one a patient ever sees. Dr. Odugbesan explains that the mortality rate for COVID-19 patients who require intubation remains as high as 65-85%.”
This is truly frightening for anesthesiologists all over the world as they are a critical part of making sure that patients can breathe during very desperate times. Thankfully, they are accustomed to working in fast paced and changing environments, so this is nothing far of what they are already used to. A huge shout out to our healthcare professionals using their expertise and putting themselves at risk to help critically ill patients. To all the anesthesiologists out there, you rock!
Friendly reminder to send a ‘thank you’ to your local hospitals in form of a letter, email, or drawings. During high paced, stressful times, they are eternally grateful for lovely messages to remind them of how important and appreciated they are.