Putting coronavirus patients on front can save lives

A study by Oxford researchers has found putting Covid-19 patients in a prone position can help save lives.

Outcomes for patients with coronavirus whose condition is serious enough to need ventilation are often poor.

Doctors know ‘awake proning’, lying a patient on their stomach, when they have Covid-19 can help with breathing, but clinical data has been limited. 

A retrospective study was done at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH), which runs the John Radcliffe, and aimed to assess whether successful full use of the method improved survival chances.

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It covered patients needing respiratory support through continuous positive airways pressure (CPAP) or high-flow nasal oxygen (HFNO) on a respiratory high-dependency unit (HDU).

The findings of the study were published in an article by the BBMJ Open Respiratory Research.

The paper said: “Our data demonstrate a significant association between full proning and reduced mortality (eight per cent vs 67 per cent).”

It added it was ‘significantly associated with reduced odds of death’ but that there were limitations to the study and more work was needed.

Researchers concluded: “These data represent the first description of patients treated for Covid-19 in the UK with non-invasive respiratory support in an HDU, and the first dataset demonstrating that there appear to be favourable clinical outcomes in patients who are able to awake prone.”