Unfortunately, celebrities and media have most of the time fuelled the myths and common allegations against the medical profession and ventilator. The myths have been propagated rather than disseminating the truth. This is no truth in such projected and perceived hearsay.
Someone who is drowning, a small boat can save his life, till sea storm settles or the victim reaches a safe land. The boat will not settle the sea storm, but enough to save a person from catastrophe. In reality, a ventilator is the invention, which should be worshiped. But contrarily, due to wrong projections and misguided perceptions, it has been hated despite saving lives.
Although doctors and ventilators are in a similar situation, projected in the wrong way, hated in spite of doing good work and saving lives. They are hated and despised, despite the only ones of help in life and death situations. The following are a few myths and facts about the ventilator.
- Myth: Once on a ventilator, patients do not survive: the common myth is that once the patient is placed on a ventilator, he will not survive. The human body, when it gets severely diseased or under stress, heart and lungs need to be supported for saving the life, till ailment So, when the battle for saving a life is ongoing, almost all the patients will have to be placed on the ventilator. It is a last-ditch attempt made to save the patient’s life. However when the patients do not survive people feel that it’s the ventilator that has caused death, rather than a rational thought about the severe disease as a cause.
In reality, it is the severity of disease and the possibility of death, when the ventilator is required. It is necessary to support life.
- Myth: Ventilator is a modality for the mere prolongation of life: every disease has a spectrum. Every disease can progress from a reversible to an irreversible state. As an effort is ongoing while waiting to reverse the process, the patient will need ventilator to sustain life. Unless the disease reaches a stage of irreversibility, the ventilator is indispensable for an absolute need to maintain life. Since in serious condition, it is an uncertain prognosis. In retrospect, combined with the application of average wisdom, the time of uncertainty and institution of the ventilator can be interpreted as a mistake. As the whole exercise is labeled as futile and expensive by relatives. it’s a grey area and the negative thoughts are fuelled because of retrospective wisdom in hindsight. The real prognosis cannot be predicted in real-time.
In reality, Ventilator is a machine which just supports respiration and not responsible for heart beating. Therefore it buys time for healing and treatment of primary disease.
- Myth: Ventilator will cause death:
one can understand this simple logic on the basis that patients are placed on dialysis when kidneys fail. Patients are placed in the cast when bones are fractured for a fixed predefined period of time. Similarly, patient is placed on a ventilator when the lungs fail. The ventilator is used till the time lungs recover and become fully functional.
In reality; Risk is because of disease, which needs ventilator and not vice versa. Ventilator is a friendly machine which helps people who have failed lungs.
- Myth : Doctors and hospitals keep dead patients on ventilator for financial gains
Fact: placing patient on ventilator is a very critical decision, taken in best interest of patient to buy time, to so as to treat the disease. A patient needing on ventilator is actually so sick, that not instituting ventilator will risk the patient’s life. Knowing all these facts, doctors take a decision to keep the patients on a ventilator.
Once the patient is on ventilator, it is a stress for the doctor to take the patient off the ventilator. As such ventilator is a SANCTUM SANCTORUM lifesaving machine, to be used only in life and death situations.
- Myth : Its a miracle if the patient placed on ventilator survives.
Given the fact that placing the patient on ventilator on scientific facts. There are clear indications for putting the patient on ventilator. A much larger patients put on ventilator are actually saved and go home.
Fact: Everyday thousands of patients are placed on ventilator and sent home to lead a normal life: Any patient who is given general anesthesia is placed on ventilator in the operation theater and then taken off the ventilator at the end of the surgery. In these cases patients are placed on ventilator so as patient can be put to deep sleep (called anesthesia) during which surgery on desired part can be carried out. Soon after the surgery patient are taken off the ventilator and soon thereafter discharged for home after few days of healing.
- Myth :Doctors place patients on ventilator at their own will:
Fact: there are scientific parameters which decide when the patient should be placed on the ventilator and when the patient should be taken off the ventilator. So the decision to place the patient is scientific and based on objective parameters.
Contrary to this popular myth, it is a compulsion for the doctor to put patient on ventilator to prevent death in serious situations. Doctors are usually thinking several steps ahead of lay person about medical science.
- Myth :All patients placed on ventilator are unconscious:
Fact: this is not necessary. Usually patients are sedated for their comfort. they can be made to walk, write and even perform small tasks when on ventilator, depending upon their lung condition.
Patients are also put on ventilator in case of airway failure when unable to protect their airway for various reasons. Another reason why patients are placed on ventilator is inability of the patients to protect his or her airway. Conscious and alert patients can swallow normally formed mouth secretions. When patients consciousness level is dulled the ability of the patient to protect his airway is lost or compromised. This causes secretions from mouth to enter into the lungs through the airway i.e. trachea causing infections in the lungs. The only way to prevent this and protect the patient’s lungs is to place a tube in his airway and then place them on the ventilator.
- Myth: Patients can be kept alive by placing on the ventilator:
General masses have a feeling that patient can be kept alive by keeping them on the ventilator. Even a dead person can be kept alive by placing on the ventilator, which is not true.
In reality: It is machine used only for breathing and not heart and brain.
- Myth : Ventilating the dead patients:
this is a common allegation on medical profession. This is no truth in this projected and perceived hearsay.
Facts: Assumptions are based on thoughts of lay persons. Patients on ventilator, may look like dead, because of the disease, sedation and paralyzed by drugs. But their heart and brain are working, so they cannot be declared dead.
If there is some incident, it needs to be proved by medical personnel. In reality, it can be a very rare and remote exception. These untrue projection are creating lots of mistrust about life saving machine.
The problem is about correct projection and majority of people without knowledge of medical science do not even know the large number of lives been saved by the ventilators.
In nutshell: serious conditions and life threatening situations need higher technical interventions, to save a life. If correct projections are made, ventilators are lifesaving machines.