On Thursday, a doctor at the Services Hospital was shifted to an anaesthesia machine at the operating theatre for respiratory distress after there was no ventilator available for him in different hospitals of the city.
This was confirmed by the Young Doctors’ Association Punjab in a statement to SAMAA Digital.
Dr Salman Ali Iftikhar, a postgraduate trainee of general surgery at Jinnah hospital Lahore, had been admitted to the medical unit 3 of Services Hospital.
The YDA Punjab spokesperson, quoting doctors on duty at the ward, said that the doctor was dependent on compulsive oxygen inhalation to maintain his oxygen levels.
The previous night his oxygen supply ran out at the ward due to a malfunction. He was rushed to the hospital’s ICU to be shifted to a ventilator but none was available, according to the YDA.
The doctors on duty contacted other hospitals but found no ventilator available anywhere else either.
On June 2, Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid had posted data on Twitter about the province’s current healthcare facilities. Services Hospital Lahore had been allocated 16 ventilators according to the data sheet, out of which 12 were vacant and four occupied.
“Finally, out of despair, they shifted him to the operation theatre and put him on an anaesthesia machine (which is a less equipped unit used during operations only),” said the YDA spokesperson.
A CT scan of his lungs showed a picture of pneumonia due to COVID-19 with collection of pus. Dr Iftikhar was operated to drain the pus. He was also operated for duodenal performation (serious injury to the intestines) which developed as a complication after a loss of blood to the intestines.
The American Society of Anaesthesiologists says “anesthesia ventilators are an obvious first-line backup during the COVID-19 pandemic when there are not sufficient ICU ventilators to meet the patient care needs.”
However, the US Food and Drug Administration has not approved of anaesthesia machines for long-term ventilation. Complete guidelines on utilising an anaesthesia machine as a respiratory ventilator can be found here.