An open letter to health care workers from Surgeon General Jerome Adams and Adm. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health, did caution that splitting ventilators should “only be considered as an absolute last resort,” but the note underscores the mounting concerns among both public officials and hospital workers over the lack of ventilators available.
“Such a strategy should only be considered as an absolute last resort, judged against the alternatives of long term ‘hand bagging’ or death,” Adams and Giroir said in the letter. “These decisions must be made on an individual institution, care-provider, and patient level. However, we do know that many institutions are evaluating this practice, and protocols are being developed and tested, and in some places, preliminarily implemented.”
The practice of splitting ventilators is currently being used in some Italian hospitals that are overrun by patients with COVID-19 and it’s been reported that at least one hospital in New York City — the current epicenter of the virus in the United States with more than 38,000 confirmed cases — has put patients on split ventilators.