COVID-19: New Toolkit Teaches Oxygenation and Ventilation Basics

Megan Brooks

April 07, 2020

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare providers in the United States are being called upon to work outside their area of expertise — especially helping out in the intensive care unit with critically ill patients requiring ventilatory support.

To assist in that effort, the American Heart Association (AHA), in conjunction with the American Association of Respiratory Care and the American Society of Anesthesiologists, has released four training modules designed to teach healthcare professionals the basics of oxygenation and ventilation management for COVID-19 patients.

"Given that COVID-19 patients will have respiratory issues and even respiratory failure, the American Heart Association felt it was important to bring all healthcare professionals the opportunity to quickly learn the basics of oxygenation and ventilation management and to be able to access this information when they most need it," Comilla Sasson, MD, PhD, vice president for emergency cardiovascular care science and innovation at the AHA, said in a statement.

The training modules were published April 3 on the AHA's CPR and First Aid website.

Module 1 (noninvasive support overview) provides specific guidance for the non-ICU healthcare provider treating patients requiring ventilation assistance who are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19; risk-mitigation strategies for frequently used ventilation-assistance devices, such as noninvasive ventilation (NIV) and high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC); and a brief review of the benefits and functionality of NIV and HFNC.

Module 2 (airway management) provides information on airway management items that may be different in patients who are under investigation for or have confirmed COVID-19. The content includes a review of criteria for when to intubate; a review of an inventory of items needed to successfully perform an intubation of those with or suspected of having COVID-19; discussion of risk-mitigation techniques specific to COVID-19 used to protect healthcare providers; and a review of manual-ventilation devices and filter placement.

Module 3 (ventilation equipment) gives an overview of equipment types, settings, and adjustments of ventilators; key terminology related to oxygenation and ventilation; and important numbers and ranges and alarms for ventilation management.

Module 4 (ventilation management) provides information about intubation and management of COVID-19 patients. Topics include when to use invasive ventilation, analgosedation, tables and goals for therapy, and treatment recommendations for refractory hypoxemia.

The AHA says the materials in this "toolkit are provided as quick resources and refreshers for healthcare providers who may be called to assist in critical care roles that are beyond their routine daily activities for COVID-19 patients. The American Heart Association still advocates that advanced airways be inserted and managed by the most experienced members of the clinical care team."

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