As both public and private researchers and health organizations begin to learn more about COVID-19, respected physicians and researchers are suggesting many patients are focusing on the wrong symptoms, delaying medical attention and ultimately facing the uncertain availability of a ventilator when their lung capacity is exhausted. For nearly two months, patients have been largely instructed to wait at home until their symptoms – cough, fever and body ache, loss of taste or sense of smell, or difficulty breathing – either improve or worsen, but physicians at the heart of the pandemic are treating patients who waited far too long – based on medical advice.
The human body is a remarkable organism, when one part of the organism cannot function at 100%, the body can compensate for extended periods of time. Such is the case of the novel coronavirus. As the virus attacks the lungs’ function and capacity, the body overcompensates by breathing harder to offset the incapacity. By the time the body is exhausted from compensating, the weakened immune system simply fails, and patients can no longer breathe on their own. There is a light at the end of the tunnel; however, as leading voices begin to advocate for the use of simple, at-home technology to measure lung function using oxygen saturation levels.
Anyone who’s been to the doctor’s office, a clinic or hospital should be familiar with the oximeter – a medical device slightly larger than a clothespin that clips onto the finger to measure pulse and, perhaps provincially, oxygen levels, offering insight into lung function, which can be inhibited by pneumonia.
On Monday, the New York Times published an opinion piece by Dr. Richard Levitan, an emergency physician who worked at Bellevue hospital in New York City for 10 days during the height of the crisis in the city. He