‘The pressure is heavy’: Italy’s ICU doctors dispute government claim hospitals are coping with Covid

'The pressure is heavy': Italy's ICU doctors dispute government claim hospitals are coping with Covid
Medical staff at work in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for Covid-19 patients at Rome's San Filippo Neri hospital. AFP
Doctors have spoken out after the Italian government's coronavirus commissioner claimed that the country's intensive care units are not under pressure.
The Covid-19 emergency is putting “almost unbearable” strain on intensive care units (ICUs) in high-risk red zones, ICU doctors said on Tuesday, denying a claim by Italy's COVID commissioner, Domenico Arcuri, that they are not struggling.
 
 
“it has been stated that the pressure on intensive care is sustainable, but in fact in the red regions the pressure is almost unsustainable, and in the orange ones it is very, very heavy,” said Antonio Giarratano, head of the ICU doctors association SIAARTI, on Italian TV channel Rai Tre.
 
He said “claiming that 10,000 ventilators can ensure a sufficient margin to sustain this exponential growth in intensive-care admissions means thinking that it is enough to turn on a ventilator to save a life.”
 
“Sadly, that is not so.”
 
The comments came after commissioner Arcuri on Monday denied reports that Italy was running out of intensive-care places because of the number of coronavirus patients.
 
“In March we had 5,000 ICU places,” Arcuri said. “At the peak (of the emergency) we had 7,000 patients in intensive care, 2,000 more than capacity.
 
“Today we have around 10,000 places in intensive care and we'll reach 11,300 next month.
 
“At the moment there are some 3,300 (COVID patients) in intensive care so there isn't pressure on these departments”.
 
Several prominent Italian health experts have pointed out this week that an intensive care unit requires more specialist staff, as well as more beds and ventilators.
“Don't ask if 4,000 extra ventilators have been bought. Ask if 4,000 specialists and 10,000 more critical area nurses were hired. The answer will be different.,” tweeted Maurizio Cecconi, an Anaesthesia & ICU specialist in Milan.
 
 

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