New data indicates proning may help COVID-19 patients

Proning—the process of turning patients on their stomachs—may help increase oxygenation experts say

By Medline Newsroom Staff | July 14, 2020

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, physicians and researchers have been learning the most effective treatment options. As more data has become available, peer-reviewed evidence has emerged that supports proning as a part of COVID-19 protocols for ventilated patients.

Proning is the process of turning patients onto their stomachs for extended periods of time. Up to this point, hospitals have justified proning COVID-19 patients based on established treatments for other respiratory diseases such as ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome), in the hopes it would improve COVID-19 outcomes. In patients with ARDS, the prone position is used in an attempt to improve oxygenation and reduce ventilator-induced lung injury, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.[1]

“It’s such a simple thing to do, and we’ve seen remarkable improvement,” Dr. Narasimhan, the regional director for critical care at Northwell Health, told CNN.

Although ARDS and COVID-19 have since been shown to work through different mechanisms and require different treatments, research indicates proning increases oxygenation in both conditions.[2] The process can be done manually or by using a patient lift. Using a patient lift requires less staff and reduces physical strain on caregivers.

“Proning patients manually, will require five or more clinicians depending on the patient’s condition and size. When using a lift, it can be accomplished with three people,” said Medline Clinical Nurse Specialist Barb Pusateri.

Medline has a free guide on how to appropriately prone patients using a lift. Download the guide today.

[1] Dickenson, S., Vollman, K., & Powers, J. (2016). AACN Procedure Manual for High Acuity Progressive and Critical Care (7thth ed., pp. 142-163.e2). N.p.: Elsevier

[2] Anesi, G. (2020). Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): Critical care and airway management issues. In Up to Date. Retrieved from


Medline Newsroom Staff

Medline Newsroom Staff

Medline's newsroom staff researches and reports on the latest news and trends in healthcare.

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