Quoted from BobSacamano:
Thanks for the reply.
Another question I had was how many people does it take to care for an average COVID-19 patient or is there no such thing as an "average" COVID-19 patient (because of all the other issues: diabetes, heart conditions, etc)? The pictures I've seen from Italy just show room upon room of patients lying in beds, hooked up to ventilators and other medical equipment. Early on, I heard about it taking multiple respiratory technicians (3 was the number I heard) to "run/manage a patient on a ventilator". Are medical professionals (nurses, doctors, technicians) the choke point or ventilators? If we come up with enough ventilators, will we be able to re-assign other medical professionals to the job or maybe use trained/trainable personnel from the armed forces?
Without sounding too morbid, what's killing those who are admitted to the hospital with COVID-19? Is it pneumonia, ARDS, or some other pre-existing condition (diabetes, heart disease, etc)?
There’s really no average patient. Based on Chinese data, 80% of patients will have mild to moderate symptoms and can recover at home. 15% will have more severe symptoms and will require hospital care but not ICU care. 5% require ICU care. A typical ICU patient has one nurse assigned to them, several doctors, a respiratory therapist, phlebotomist to draw labs, radiology tech for X-rays, etc.
Both physical ventilators and people to care for the patients can be a limiting factor. If an ICU doc gets COVID-19 and has to be home quarantined that really hurts as they are hard to replace. That’s why docs like myself who don’t normally manage vents may have to in a surge situation. Tough to say right now but that’s why there is such a focus on flattening the curve so we don’t get there.
COVID-19 patients die from viral pneumonia and ARDS which makes it impossible to get enough oxygen into their blood despite full ventilator support. Older patients, those with lung disease and other conditions that suppress their immune system (like diabetes) are more likely to get severe disease and may have less lung reserve to be able to survive the pneumonia phase.