WHO updates respiratory support guidelines for COVID-19 patients

The World Health Organization issued a fourth update to its living guidelines on COVID-19 clinical management to include suggesting the use of three devices over standard oxygen therapy, according to a press release sent to Becker's. The suggestion is intended for hospitalized COVID-19 patients with acute respiratory failure but who are not at the stage where they need to be intubated. 

The three devices the WHO suggests are high-flow nasal oxygen, continuous positive airway pressure and noninvasive ventilation, otherwise known as bilevel positive airway pressure. Clinicians can choose between these devices, as available evidence is not strong enough to indicate one device over the other. 

The devices are noninvasive and provide respiratory support through enabling higher oxygen flows, positive pressure or a combination of both. Evidence, according to the WHO, shows their use may reduce the need for invasive mechanical ventilation and the risk of dying compared to standard oxygen therapy. They could also reduce the length of stay at the hospital or intensive care unit. 

The recommendation is based on five randomized controlled trials specific to COVID-19 in which experts looked at evidence from COVID-19 patients as well as other patients who have experienced acute respiratory distress syndrome. 

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