As we mentioned in last week’s blog post, hospital staff members around the world are considering universal “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) orders for all COVID-19 patients. In a follow-up to the piece which first examined the practice by a reporter for the Washington Post, Forbes maintains that medical personnel still struggle with the decision, as they face an overwhelming health crisis:
“Some New York City hospitals are activating policies allowing doctors to not revive dying COVID-19 patients.” The Washington Post report last Tuesday night followed an idea that had been dismissed earlier by Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus coordinator, as cases surge across the five NY boroughs and facilities are stretched thin.
A DNR is a medical order written by a doctor. It instructs health care providers to withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if a patient’s stops breathing stops or if their heart stops beating. In saner times, this type of order applies only at the request of the family. Or, sometimes medical staff sense the loss of a patient’s quality of life post- resuscitation. But in the current coronavirus-laden environment, the order is emerging as a practical way for physicians to guard against contracting the deadly pathogen themselves in the process of trying to revive failing patients.
Nevertheless, so far, no hospitals make such system-wide policies. Instead, according to the Wall Street Journal, New York healthcare workers are told only to withhold chest compressions because of the associated risk of exposure as well as the amount of protective gear required.
What to Expect if Your Loved Ones Becomes Infected
To date, worldwide Coronavirus deaths number 58,795. (Admittedly, this number climbs at an exceedingly high rate, so check Worldometer for the latest totals.) This is out of a total of nearly 1.1 million cases. Although they initially considered COVID-19 on a par with influenza, experts now consider coronavirus to be more contagious and deadly than the flu. The World Health Organization (WHO) puts the crude mortality rate for COVID-19 between 3-4%, and assign seasonal influenza below 0.1%. In their notes, WHO admits the situation is fluid, “It is important to note that these figures are heavily influenced by the availability of quality healthcare, and by case data.”
Medical health professionals at Johns Hopkins recommend you take the following steps if you start to feel sick:
- Stay home. Call a health provider. However, if you have a medical emergency, including high fever and severe shortness of breath, call 9-1-1.
- Answer health providers’ questions to determine your risk. A medical pro will ask about your symptoms and exposure to an infected person.
- Follow your provider’s instructions. Stay home. Get a test.
- Practice hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. This includes washing your hands for 20 seconds, coughing into your elbow, and cleaning surfaces frequently.
If you or someone you love may have contracted COVID-19, stay calm. Even if your loved one contracts COVID-19 does not equal certain death. Recovery rates remain high. In fact, as coronavirus cases near one million, hundreds of thousands of patients have recovered. In fact, in some cases, your doctor may recommend you ride things out at home, in a self-quarantine.
Although policies vary by facility as well as geographic location, every medical center in the world is taking heavy duty precautions to protect their staff while effectively treating patients. Infected people face either a mild-to-moderate reaction, safely managed at home. Or, they could react severely, experiencing tightening in their chest, shortness of breath, coughing up thick mucus, loss of appetite, chills and sweating. If your symptoms are severe, you will likely be hospitalized:
- You’ll be admitted and monitored for escalating conditions, particularly those which involve your breathing and lungs.
- You could be given oxygen to help you breathe better.
- You might be given an epinephrine injection, an albuterol inhalation or similar medications. These drugs can help relax muscles in the airways and increase airflow to the lungs.
- Medical staff will continue to watch you for signs of secondary infection as COVID-19 compromises the immune system.
- If COVID-19 damages your lungs continues, you might develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which means you could go into respiratory failure. At this point you would require a medical ventilator to breathe. At this point, medical professionals might find it necessary to advise a DNR.
- Or, if the virus is still running wild throughout your body, it may cause you to go into sepsis. Sepsis is a serious medical condition caused by the body’s response to an infection, which is treated by quick diagnosis and prompt treatment. This can include antibiotics, an IV and other appropriate supportive care.
If your loved one goes into septic shock as a result of COVID-19, healthcare professionals will likely advise against heroic measures. So, prepare yourself in case this occurs even as you hope for the best. Director of the National Institutes of Allergy & Infectious Disease (NIH) Dr. Anthony Fauci predicts that, before the pandemic is over, the United States will see millions of cases of coronavirus and hundreds of thousands of deaths.
About Foothill Funeral & Cremation Services in Glendora, California
When the time comes, if you so desire, we would value the opportunity to help you pre-plan for yourself or a family member or friend. Feel free to contact us now to pre-plan your own memorial or at your time of need (626) 335-0615. We would be happy to discuss your plans on the phone, via email or by text during the Coronavirus pandemic. Our relationship with United Methodist Church and Sacred Heart provide great places for mourners to host funerals and memorials. So, once the lockdown orders are reversed, you will love the grandiose yet intimate settings in both locations.