Why Positioning COVID-19 Patients on Their Stomachs Can Save Lives

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(Newswire.net— May 17, 2020) —  UK NHS doctors were convinced that one of their patients, a 50-year-old woman would die of COVID-19 within hours.

She was on a respirator in a COVID hospital in London. Her husband, a PR consultant, desperately asks if there was anything ‘weird and wacky’ they could try, and the leading doctor offered one last solution.

They lay Mrs. Fresco on her stomach for 12 hours per day to improve her lung capacity and help drain the fluid that built-up in her lungs as a result of pneumonia. She instantly started breathing better and was fully recovered within two weeks.

As the number of COVID-19 cases grows, images from hospitals have become all too familiar to us, but as we see intensive care patients putting on sophisticated respirators to help them breathe, one detail caught our eye – some of them were laying on their stomach.

This old technique is called “proning” and has been shown to be useful in some patients suffering from respiratory diseases. It helps to increase the amount of oxygen that can enter their lungs.

But the technique does come with certain risks.

Patients can be moved to the proning position (from the Latin pronus, bent forward) for a few hours to move the fluid that accumulates in their lungs and interferes with their breathing.

This technique is increasingly used in the treatment of patients with COVID-19 who require assistance in intensive care.

An increased focus on proning amid the pandemic has sparked curiosity about whether the method should be used before patients even reach intensive care, rather than just in the later stages of the disease, Daily Mail reports.

In March, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended proning for adult patients with COVID-19 with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), for a period of 12 to 16 hours per day.

The WHO said the technique could be considered for use for children as well, but required trained people and additional expertise to perform it safely.