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

Categories: Patient Experience

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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