Many questions on how to extubate these patients. There’s no right answer yet. I’ve read of a high reintubation rate for these patients and cardiac arrest after extubation we need to be prepared for that. This is a living, breathing document. I would like to make changes as you all point out things that I have missed. Let’s attempt to create a COVID Extubation Protocol.
Prior to extubation:
Before getting to the point of extubation, I would favor a prolonged version of 0/5 or 5/5 on PSV due to high rate of reintubation, possibly even T-piece. Allow the lungs to de-recruit. My opinion. Make sure the patient can tolerate this. As mentioned earlier, I have heard of significant reintubation rates with crashing and burning of patients. One must also have to wait a while until the proper crew and gear is ready.
The extubation itself:
The extubation procedure must be treated like an aerosol generating procedure (bronch, intubation, etc.). Full PPE for staff, N-95, PAPPR, full draping, etc. Should only require 2 people. The unanimous response of everyone I have asked directly have included undoing the restraint, deflating the cuff, and running out the room. This is hilarious but not realistic. We should not encourage the patient to cough. Good luck with that.
Clinical judgement comes into play here. We all have concerns about aerosolizing the virus and questions regarding which device hypothetically causes more or less of this. Hopefully the patient needs just room air. Then next comes the regular nasal cannula. I’ll defer to your clinical judgement and patient scenario on what you choose to use after that.
Unclear Questions: How long to remain in airborne precautions?
At least 3 hours (this is based on the NEJM study I reference earlier). After that, I would put a surgical facemask on the patient, if available, for when the cough they don’t get it all over the place. My vote would be to be in an N95 anytime around a COVID patient but that’s unrealistic at the time of this writing.
Should we check a viral load prior to extubation?
In a perfect world I would love to know whether the patient is still infectious or not. Right now the testing that most institutions is lackluster at best with not enough testing available and too long a turnaround time. Treat everyone as if they’re still infectious.
Addendum: there are photos circling around about putting big plastic bags around patient’s head to contain the cough and pre-fill it with heliox. I have zero experience with this. I would like to see how you all do your thang! Share with me your COVID extubation protocol.
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