Western Cape to use high-flow nasal oxygen as early signs show improved treatment

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  • The Western Cape health department says early signs using high-flow nasal oxygen has been positive.
  • A trial on seven patients yielded six recoveries, and the seventh did not need to go on a ventilator.
  • The province will be rolling out its use at many more facilities.

Western Cape doctors are feeling hopeful about the early results of using nasal oxygen instead of ventilators to treat serious Covid-19 cases at public hospitals.

As a result, the provincial Department of Health will now be rolling out high-flow nasal infrastructure, it was revealed during a digital press conference on Thursday.

Head of department Keith Cloete said at Tygerberg Hospital, the team had decided to test the measure on seven people who were in critical care for Covid-19, which can cause serious respiratory problems.

This after a low recovery rate was recorded on previous six patients who were placed on ventilators.

According to Cloete, of the seven on high-nasal oxygenation, six recovered and the seventh was not placed on a ventilator.

This had changed the way Tygerberg was treating patients critically ill with Covid-19, he said.

Since then, 114 patients in critical care were assessed, with 70% going on to high-flow nasal oxygen.

None of them required it.

Of the 70% who used it, 70% recovered, which was considered an "excellent result", Cloete said.

ALSO READ |  Mediclinic: Only 5% of our beds occupied by Covid-19 patients

The department has therefore decided high-flow nasal oxygen can become an alternate ventilated care.

Because of this, it is bringing high-flow nasal oxygen infrastructure on line.

The department is arranging for the laying of pipes for the infrastructure and bringing the necessary equipment to Groote Schuur Hospital as well.

The team from Tygerberg found this could be done in a ward bed as well, if managed properly.

However, this means the hospital has to acquire the necessary mix of humidified oxygen required, and is competing with other countries which have also discovered this alternative.

Turning to bed use, Cloete warned the increased rate of incoming trauma cases meant there would be less intensive care unit beds for Covid-19 cases because they were set aside to cope with the anticipated number of patients in distress because of Covid-19.

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