“This is the first guidance to lay out what works and what doesn’t in treating coronavirus-infected patients in intensive care. It’s based on decades of research on acute respiratory infection being applied to COVID-19 patients,” added ESICM President-Elect Maurizio Cecconi, MD, from Humanitas University, Milan, Italy.
“At the same time as caring for patients, we need to make sure that health workers are following procedures which will allow themselves to be protected against infection,” he stressed.
“We must protect them, they are in the frontline. We cannot allow our healthcare workers to be at risk. On top of that, if they get infected they could also spread the disease further.”
While all 50 recommendations are key to the successful management of COVID-19 patients, busy clinicians on the frontline need to zone in on those indispensable practical recommendations that they should implement immediately.
Medscape Medical News therefore asked lead author Waleed Alhazzani, MD, MSc, from the Division of Critical Care, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada, to give his personal top 10, the first three of which are focused on limiting the spread of infection.
1. For healthcare workers performing aerosol-generating procedures  on patients with COVID-19 in the ICU, we recommend using fitted respirator masks (N95 respirators, FFP2, or equivalent), as compared to surgical/medical masks, in addition to other personal protective equipment (eg, gloves, gown, and eye protection such as a face shield or safety goggles.
2. We recommend performing aerosol-generating procedures on ICU patients with COVID-19 in a negative-pressure room.
3. For healthcare workers providing usual care for nonventilated COVID-19 patients, we suggest using surgical/medical masks, as compared to respirator masks in addition to other personal protective equipment.
4. For healthcare workers performing endotracheal intubation on patients with COVID-19, we suggest using video guided laryngoscopy, over direct laryngoscopy, if available.
5. We recommend endotracheal intubation in patients with COVID-19, performed by healthcare workers experienced with airway management, to minimize the number of attempts and risk of transmission.
6. For intubated and mechanically ventilated adults with suspicion of COVID-19, we suggest obtaining endotracheal aspirates, over bronchial wash or bronchoalveolar lavage samples.