COVID-19 has become the most common cause of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) worldwide. Features of the pathophysiology and clinical presentation partially distinguish it from 'classical' ARDS. A Research and Development (RAND) analysis gauged the opinion of an expert panel about the management of ARDS with and without COVID-19 as the precipitating cause, using recent UK guidelines as a template.An 11-person panel comprising intensive care practitioners rated the appropriateness of ARDS management options at different times during hospital admission, in the presence or absence of, or varying severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection on a scale of 1-9 (where 1-3 is inappropriate, 4-6 is uncertain and 7-9 is appropriate). A summary of the anonymised results was discussed at an online meeting moderated by an expert in RAND methodology. The modified online survey comprising 76 questions, subdivided into investigations (16), non-invasive respiratory support (18), basic intensive care unit management of ARDS (20), management of refractory hypoxaemia (8), pharmacotherapy (7) and anticoagulation (7), was completed again.Disagreement between experts was significant only when addressing the appropriateness of diagnostic bronchoscopy in patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. Adherence to existing published guidelines for the management of ARDS for relevant evidence-based interventions was recommended. Responses of the experts to the final survey suggested that the supportive management of ARDS should be the same, regardless of a COVID-19 diagnosis. For patients with ARDS with COVID-19, the panel recommended routine treatment with corticosteroids and a lower threshold for full anticoagulation based on a high index of suspicion for venous thromboembolic disease.The expert panel found no reason to deviate from the evidence-based supportive strategies for managing ARDS outlined in recent guidelines.
Mark Griffiths, Susanna Meade, Charlotte Summers, Daniel Francis McAuley, Alastair Proudfoot, Marta Montero Baladia, Paul M Dark, Kate Diomede, Simon J Finney, Lui G Forni, Chris Meadows, Ian A Naldrett, Brijesh Patel, Gavin D Perkins, Mark A Samaan, Laurence Sharifi, Ganesh Suntharalingam, Nicholas T Tarmey, Harriet F Young, Matt P Wise, Peter M Irving