Clinical update on COVID-19 for the emergency clinician: Airway and resuscitation

Summer Chavez, William J. Brady, Michael Gottlieb, Brandon M. Carius, Stephen Y. Liang, Alex Koyfman, Brit Long

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Introduction: Coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) has resulted in millions of cases worldwide. As the pandemic has progressed, the understanding of this disease has evolved. Objective: This narrative review provides emergency clinicians with a focused update of the resuscitation and airway management of COVID-19. Discussion: Patients with COVID-19 and septic shock should be resuscitated with buffered/balanced crystalloids. If hypotension is present despite intravenous fluids, vasopressors including norepinephrine should be initiated. Stress dose steroids are recommended for patients with severe or refractory septic shock. Airway management is the mainstay of initial resuscitation in patients with COVID-19. Patients with COVID-19 and ARDS should be managed similarly to those ARDS patients without COVID-19. Clinicians should not delay intubation if indicated. In patients who are more clinically stable, physicians can consider a step-wise approach as patients' oxygenation needs escalate. High-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) and non-invasive positive pressure ventilation (NIPPV) are recommended over elective intubation. Prone positioning, even in awake patients, has been shown to lower intubation rates and improve oxygenation. Strategies consistent with ARDSnet can be implemented in this patient population, with a goal tidal volume of 4–8 mL/kg of predicted body weight and targeted plateau pressures <30 cm H2O. Limited data support the use of neuromuscular blocking agents (NBMA), recruitment maneuvers, inhaled pulmonary vasodilators, and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Conclusion: This review presents a concise update of the resuscitation strategies and airway management techniques in patients with COVID-19 for emergency medicine clinicians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-51
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus-2019
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2


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