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Dexamethasone: The steroid one Wichita hospital is using for its critically ill COVID-19 patients

KSN Digital Extra

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A widely available drug known as dexamethasone, used to treat critically ill patients with COVID-19, is being administered at a Wichita hospital.

“It’s a potent corticosteroid, so it’s an anti-inflammatory medication,” said Dr. Justin Sandall, Anesthesiologist and Intensivist at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis. “If you’re on oxygen and your oxygen levels in your blood were low enough that you needed something to be on oxygen that’s where the benefit really started to be seen, and it was most pronounced in the sickest patients that had to have breathing tubes.”

Dr. Sandall says the hospital has been using this drug since the start of the pandemic.

“We actually have been using Dexamethasone and Decadron for our COVID-19 patients at St. Francis that were critically ill, essentially since this outbreak began here in Wichita,” said Dr. Sandall.

Sandall says even though the study supports their claim in using the steroid to treat critically ill patients, they are still waiting for the full study to come out to better understand its correlation in treating COVID-19.

“We’re waiting for the official study to come out so we can actually look at the methods and what dose they used and for how long and to really tease out the details because that’s where a lot of the important information will come from,” he added.

Despite it being readily available, he does not recommend people rush to pharmacies to go buy it.

“The benefits were shown in patients that were hospitalized. So this is not for patients that are at home and worried they could have COVID or even at home with mild symptoms early in after a positive test. It probably doesn’t help those patients and it could potentially hurt,” said Dr. Sandall.

He says St. Francis is looking at its COVID-19 cases and hope to print its own findings.

“What we are doing here is going back retrospectively, meaning we’re looking back at the patients we’ve had and doing kind of a case-control, or cohort, to see who did and didn’t get steroid and how did they do. We hope to have that published in the coming months, ” said Dr. Sandall.

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