Researchers begin forming guidance on properly managing COVID-19 patient airways

Since COVID-19 acutely affects the respiratory system, airway management is a significant concern among patients. However, because the virus is new and knowledge about it evolves, clear guidance on best practices remains hard to come by, especially on the topic of airway management.

Two medical professionals in full PPE intubate a patient on a hospital bed.

An international research group featuring experts from the United States, China, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, Germany, Canada, Ukraine, South Africa, and India—led by a faculty member at the Perelman School of Medicine—has published an international expert consensus on three points of contention to better facilitate patient treatment amid the pandemic. The consensus was published in the British Journal of Anesthesia.

“We hope that through our work to put this together, health systems will take note and the overall outcome of respiratory support and treatment in COVID-19 patients will improve,” says lead author Huafeng Wei, an associate professor of anesthesiology at Penn Medicine. “We also hope this work will help guide health care workers toward working more safely.”

The three areas Wei and his co-authors tackled were personal protection equipment (PPE), the use of high-flow nasal oxygen, and when tracheal intubation is best performed. While research remains to be done on all of these topics, there was enough evidence from experts across the medical field to form a tentative consensus, according to the paper’s authors.

Moving forward, as more is discovered about COVID-19, the group plans to update their guidance.

This story is by Frank Otto. Read more at Penn Medicine News.