A 38 year-old male with a history of hypertension presents to the emergency department with fever, cough and shortness of breath. He notes 4 days of symptoms which have been gradually worsening despite over-the-counter treatments. He denies recent travel or sick contacts. While he attempted to remain isolated – his symptoms grew intolerable.
On arrival in the emergency department, vital signs were notable for tachycardia and hypoxia (SpO2 85%, improving to 92% on 4L by nasal cannula). Physical examination demonstrated tachypnea and accessory muscle use but clear lung fields, and no extremity edema nor jugular venous distension. A chest radiograph revealed patchy airspace opacities. A presumptive diagnosis of COVID-19 pneumonia was made.
While awaiting hospitalization, the patient’s hypoxia worsened though he remained otherwise alert and oriented. He was placed on 15L via non-rebreather and instructed regarding self-prone positioning. He was admitted to the intensive care unit.
An Algorithm for the Management of COVID-19 Hypoxic Respiratory Failure1-6
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