Planning for ventilator-dependent patients during natural disasters



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– For patients with neuromuscular disorders, the stress and danger from natural disasters such Hurricane Harvey are best avoided by leaving the area as soon as possible, according to Venessa A. Holland, MD, FCCP, of Houston Methodist Hospital.

While none of Dr. Holland’s patients died during this catastrophic hurricane, there were considerable challenges, particularly for those trapped by the many trillion gallons of water fell on Texas and Louisiana in August 2017. Houston was flooded, and hospitals and other medical facilities were hit hard. The vulnerability of ventilator-dependent and incapacitated patients was of particular concern.

In one case, a ventilator-dependent patient trapped by flood waters at home became diaphoretic and hypotensive. The patient was treated with electrolyte-replacement sports drink administered via percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube, Dr. Holland told attendees at the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians.

Dr. Holland spoke in a video interview about how neuromuscular disorder patients fared during Hurricane Harvey and her recommendations for the next natural disaster.

Dr. Holland disclosed that she previously served as a consultant to Hill-Rom.

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