Doctors in New York hospitals have begun to reduce the use of ventilators after a high death rate among patients using them in a number of regions, according to an Associated Press report.
The report, citing experts, said that about 40% to 50% of patients with acute respiratory problems die while on ventilator.
The agency quoted state officials as saying that 80% of Corona virus patients who were placed on respirators eventually died.
There were also reports of unusually high death rates among patients who were on ventilators elsewhere in the United States, China and the United Kingdom, the agency said.
The Business Insider website said placing the patient on a ventilator is a last step saved for the most affected patients, who usually already have the highest chance of death due to respiratory failure.
The high death rate could be a direct result of this, as well as the fact that there are as yet no drugs that can help fight the virus.
Some doctors also worry that ventilators can actually be more harmful to some patients with the virus.
"Ventilators can damage the lungs of patients," said Dr. Tiffany Osborne, a critical care specialist at Washington University School of Medicine. "The respirator itself can damage lung tissue based on the amount of pressure required to help treat oxygen from the lungs."
Dr. Negin Haji Zadeh, a pulmonary care physician at Hofstra Northwell College of Medicine in New York, said that while ventilators work well for people with diseases like pneumonia, they do not necessarily work for HIV patients.
The lack of treatment options for HIV patients in most parts of the world has caused the use of ventilators for the most affected patients.
But the high death rates among respiratory users have prompted some doctors to find alternatives and reduce dependence on them, according to the Associated Press.
According to the agency, doctors try things like: putting patients in different positions to try to get oxygen in different parts of their lungs, giving patients oxygen through the nasal tubes, and adding nitric oxide to the oxygen treatments in an attempt to increase blood flow.