The ventilator has been core to ICU fights against COVID-19. But some doctors say they’ve been overused—a cautionary tale about medicine’s misguided overreliance on machines.
As COVID-19 began to lay siege to New York City’s hospitals in March, a small but consequential debate broke out in American emergency rooms and intensive care units: Was it possible that ventilators, the much-politicized medical devices widely seen as a lifeline for severely ill COVID-19 patients, were being overused? With a pandemic poised to sweep through the U.S. and the horrific example of Italy still lingering, the dispute gained a particular urgency.
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