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Intermountain Healthcare develops first-ever vaping treatment guidelines

The team at Intermountain developed what's believed to be the first-ever best practice treatment guide for patients with vaping-related lung injury. Photo: Jess Gomez, Intermountain

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Intermountain Healthcare announced a major breakthrough in the nationwide vaping epidemic. Researchers in Salt Lake City developed the first-ever best practice treatment guide to both identify and treat patients suffering from lung injury associated with e-cigarettes or vaping.

The treatment guide comes from a study, which was published in the most recent issue of The Lancet, a world-renowned medical journal.

The study pertains to the cumulative clinical experience of treating 60 patients across 24 hospitals in the health system.

Those patients were treated between June 27, 2019, and October 4, 2019. All had a history of vaping or e-cigarette use within 90 days prior to symptoms. A majority of patients were admitted to an intensive care unit and were treated with antibiotics, oxygen and steroids.

Upon conclusion, health officials recommended shorter courses of moderate-dose steroids for patients who were admitted to hospitals, while higher doses of steroids are needed for patients determined to be critically ill.

Doctor Denitza Blagev says the strategy wielded great results.

“They were able to see that most of them really improved tremendously,” she explained. “Those that have imaging, the imaging looked much better, they reported their symptoms were much improved.”

Not only did a majority get better, but the results came quickly.

“People start turning around within a few days,” said Dr. Blagev.

Of the 60 patients, a majority started to show improvement, while only 10-percent relapsed and encountered complications.

Doctors also discovered the problem they’re fighting is unlike anything in the past.

“People that have been vaping for years and years have gotten sick over the summer and fall,” said Dr. Blagev. “This is different.”

Officials at Intermountain Healthcare say not only are they the first institution to draft best practice guidelines, but they also are the first to recommend a more aggressive approach for critically ill patients.

“I think the systematic approach and theme was consistent with the sicker you were, the more we did and the more you got,” she said.

Doctors note it’s vital to have these guidelines in circulation since flu season will bring an abundance of patients with symptoms similar to vaping-related illnesses that require a vetting process to determine the specific illness.