What is proning, and how is it helping Covid patients?

Proning is the process of turning a patient from their back onto their stomach on a hospital bed.

Why is this helping Covid patients?  It has been found that proning improves the expansion of the lungs, which improves breathing and oxygen levels. 

It takes a team of hospital members to place a patient in the prone position safely. The team includes nurses, respiratory therapists, technicians, and anesthesia staff who assist with proning the patient.  The patient’s blood pressure, pulse and oxygen level are monitored during the position change.

Patients are placed in the prone position for 16-18 hours, and then returned to lying on their back for 6-8 hours if their oxygen levels can tolerate it.

The risks to proning are dislodgement of medical tubes, skin pressure injuries, facial and airway swelling, and problems with blood pressure or pulse.

Studies have found less need for invasive mechanical ventilation of Covid patients who are proned.   Oxygen levels have improved rapidly when a patient is placed in the prone position, and studies have shown better survival rates.

A patient in prone position in the ICU:

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