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Japan:’Last Resort’ COVID-19 Treatment is Short in Supply at Hospitals

Photos credit to istockphoto | news18

People, this is what happen in Japan.

According to Japan Times, a treatment used as a “last resort” for severe cases of COVID-19 could soon reach capacity as hospitals nationwide strain to meet the demands of a growing domestic outbreak.

Credit : KMK

Japan currently do have 725 Covid-19 cases with 19 reported death( data as of Mar 14, 10am), while 24 patients with severe infections have been treated or continue to be treated using extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, a resource intensive but cutting-edge machine used occasionally to remedy serious lung and heart problems.

There are upwards of 1,300 ECMO machines available in the country, according to a survey released in March by the Japanese Society of Respiratory Care Medicine and the Japan Association of Clinical Engineers.

Credit : Japan Times

But only about 300 of these machines are available for treating COVID-19, said Satoru Hashimoto, the director of intensive care medicine at the hospital of the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine.

“If things get worse, we don’t have enough ECMO machines and hospitals are already full of patients,” Hashimoto said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

Hospitals can’t set aside all ECMO machines since the treatment is also used for patients with severe heart and lung issues, he explained, adding that even hospitals with five machines aren’t able to spare any for COVID-19 treatment.

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In some cases, hospital resources are being stretched so thin that doctors have had to transfer patients using their own personal cars, Hashimoto said.

About 80% of COVID-19 patients experience mild symptoms while around 15% need hospital-based care, according to the World Health Organization. The remaining 5% require intensive care, and only a small number qualify for ECMO. Even then, ECMO is seen as a last resort — only to be used when conventional methods fail to yield positive results.

Credit : NHK

9 of the 24 COVID-19 patients treated with ECMO in Japan have recovered completely or have already been weaned successfully onto more conventional treatment methods like oxygen tanks or mechanical ventilators. So far, no patients treated with ECMO in Japan have died.

This is why we all should play our part to help contain the spread of Covid-19. If the number of cases increase drastically, hospitals might not be able to cope.

Source : Japan Times