An increasing number of U.S. covid-19 patients are surviving after they are placed on mechanical ventilators, a last-resort measure that was perceived as a signal of impending death during the terrifying early days of the pandemic.
Early reports out of Wuhan, China, and Italy cemented the impression that the vast majority of patients who required the breathing devices ultimately succumbed to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
But as the pandemic has continued, U.S. hospitals are reporting much lower mortality rates, results on par with death rates for patients with similar severe lung problems caused by other diseases.
Experts say that’s because clinicians have become more skilled and are deploying new tactics as they learn more about the course of covid-19; some are using ventilators more selectively; many hospitals are less overwhelmed than when the virus first inundated Wuhan, parts of Italy and New York City; and early data on ventilation and death did not present a true picture.
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