It isn’t just the sheer number of patients that is overwhelming physicians in COVID-19 hot spots. The disease is challenging to treat, and according to a report in the New York Times, ironclad emergency medical practices—about when to use ventilators, for example—have dissolved almost overnight.

Doctors, if you could go back in time, what would you tell yourselves in early March?

“What we thought we knew, we don’t know,” said Dr. Nile Cemalovic, an intensive care physician at Lincoln Medical Center in the Bronx.

Medicine routinely remakes itself, generation by generation. For the disease that drives this pandemic, certain ironclad emergency medical practices have dissolved almost overnight.

The biggest change: Instead of quickly sedating people who had shockingly low levels of oxygen and then putting them on mechanical ventilators, many doctors are now keeping patients conscious, having them roll over in bed, recline in chairs and continue to breathe on their own — with additional oxygen — for as long as possible.

Read more in the New York Times.

Featured image: A tired nurse walks through a nearly deserted Grand Central Station on March 26, 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo © Kevin Benckendorf, Dreamstime (ID 178507213).