“Two thirds of Covid patients at ITU end up on a ventilator” – Dr Carmel Abela

Two thirds of patients at the Intensive Care Unit end up on a ventilator. In an interview with Television Malta, the chairman of the Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Department, Dr Carmel Abela, said that the ventilator is used when an infection in the lung is so strong that a patient cannot respirate alone to remain alive.

There are currently between 16 to 20 patients with Covid-19 at Mater Dei’s ITU, with an average age of 57.

Dr Abela said: “If the patient cannot resist this type of oxygen, he will end up on artificial ventilation because the infection in the lung is so strong that he cannot respirate alone and therefore is placed on a ventilator to remain alive”.

He said that doctors at the ITU are trained to treat patients who are in the most critical situation and will carry out a tracheostomy by inserting the ventilator pipe through a neck hole for the great respiratory pipe of the patient.

“We will need to keep the patient asleep, through anaesthesia, therefore a patient at the ITU many times will be on anaesthetic medicine. Patients who have the Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome condition are placed faced down to help them recover when the lung is filled with much inflamation”.

Dr Abela said that the amount of oxygen entering from the lung to the blood is improved in such patients, and ITU doctors will start reducing slowly the assistance of the ventilator until the patient will again respirate alone.

Obesity is one of the greatest challenges in any patient at the ITU which, apart from causing other disease such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease, it does not assist Covid patients. When a patient is placed on a ventilator, obesity causes big problems for the oxygen to directly passin the lung.