BackgroundThe surge of critically ill patients due to the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) overwhelmed critical care capacity in areas of northern Italy. Anesthesia machines have been used as alternatives to traditional ICU mechanical ventilators. However, the outcomes for patients with COVID-19 respiratory failure cared for with Anesthesia Machines is currently unknow. We hypothesized that COVID-19 patients receiving care with Anesthesia Machines would have worse outcomes compared to standard practice.MethodsWe designed a retrospective study of patients admitted with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis at a large tertiary urban hospital in northern Italy. Two care units were included: a 27-bed standard ICU and a 15-bed temporary unit emergently opened in an operating room setting. Intubated patients assigned to Anesthesia Machines (AM group) were compared to a control cohort treated with standard mechanical ventilators (ICU-VENT group). Outcomes were assessed at 60-day follow-up. A multivariable Cox regression analysis of risk factors between survivors and non-survivors was conducted to determine the adjusted risk of death for patients assigned to AM group.ResultsComplete daily data from 89 mechanically ventilated patients consecutively admitted to the two units were analyzed. Seventeen patients were included in the AM group, whereas 72 were in the ICU-VENT group. Disease severity and intensity of treatment were comparable between the two groups. The 60-day mortality was significantly higher in the AM group compared to the ICU-vent group (12/17 vs. 27/72, 70.6% vs. 37.5%, respectively, p = 0.016). Allocation to AM group was associated with a significantly increased risk of death after adjusting for covariates (HR 4.05, 95% CI: 1.75-9.33, p = 0.001). Several incidents and complications were reported with Anesthesia Machine care, raising safety concerns.ConclusionsOur results support the hypothesis that care associated with the use of Anesthesia Machines is inadequate to provide long-term critical care to patients with COVID-19. Added safety risks must be considered if no other option is available to treat severely ill patients during the ongoing pandemic.Clinical Trial NumberNot applicable.