Hospitals across the country have been grappling with an outbreak of vaping-associated illnesses that still have no confirmed cause.
Utah is one of the states hit hardest by cases of e-cigarette- or vaping-associated lung injury, known as EVALI, with nearly all of those patients treated at the Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare system.
Having seen 105 of the state’s 112 EVALI cases as of Nov. 25, the health system developed guidelines to help clinicians more rapidly detect and treat patients.
The recommendations were published in November by Lancet.
“The power of our guidelines is not only saying this is what we did, but this is how the patients did as a result,” said study lead author Dr. Denitza Blagev, a pulmonary and critical-care physician at Intermountain. “Therefore we feel it’s safe to propose this and suggest this for others to use.”
Blagev credited the health system’s telehealth monitoring program for allowing clinicians to track, collect and share data on 60 Intermountain clinic patients with vaping-related lung illness from June 27 to Oct. 4.
The data allowed researchers to rapidly recognize the outbreak and form a task force.
By reviewing that data collected at multiple sites, the task force learned what treatments patients had received and their outcomes after discharge, providing a clearer picture of what therapies were most effective for specific patients.