WEDNESDAY, April 22, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The largest analysis of hospitalized U.S. COVID-19 patients to date finds that most did not survive after being placed on a mechanical ventilator.
The study included the health records of 5,700 COVID-19 patients hospitalized between March 1 and April 4 at facilities overseen by Northwell Health, New York State's largest health system.
Among the 2,634 patients for whom outcomes were known, the overall death rate was 21%, but it rose to 88% for those who received mechanical ventilation, the Northwell Health COVID-19 Research Consortium reported.
The new findings "provide a crucial early insight into the front-line response to the COVID-19 outbreak in New York," Dr. Kevin Tracey, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, said in a Northwell Health news release.
The findings also add fuel to the notion that ventilators may sometimes do more harm than good for patients battling for life with severe COVID-19.
Mechanical ventilators work by pushing air into the lungs of critically ill patients who can no longer breathe well on their own. These patients must be sedated and have a tube stuck into their throat.
Recognizing that complications from ventilator use can occur, some intensive care units (ICUs) have started to delay putting a COVID-19 patient on a ventilator until the last possible moment, when it is truly a life-or-death decision, said Dr. Udit Chaddha, an interventional pulmonologist with Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.