FALSE: Proning as self-administered treatment for COVID-19

Claim:

Prone positioning or proning, the medical technique of laying patients flat on their stomachs, is a self-help mechanism for anyone experiencing COVID-19 respiratory symptoms.

A certain Dr. Ahmad O. Rifai from Florida posted a Facebook video encouraging the use of proning at home to alleviate respiratory COVID-19 symptoms.

As of writing, the post has gained 1,800 reactions, 3,900 shares, and 214 comments, and has also gained traction among Filipinos. This post was sent to the Rappler Fact Check team for verification.

Rating: FALSE
The facts:

The Department of Health (DOH) has refuted this claim, saying that proning is administered only with a doctor’s recommendation.

On August 12, the BIDA Solusyon Facebook page posted a graphic with a screenshot of Rifai's video marking it "fake news." BIDA Solusyon sa COVID-19 is a campaign led by the DOH.

Done improperly, without adequate supervision, proning could cause harm. The graphic was posted with a caption in Filipino which translates to: "Facts: Putting patients in a prone position should be done only upon doctors' recommendations. The patient could be put in danger if this is done without the guidance of a doctor. If one is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate immediately and call your BHERT!"

Because it is being seen as a way to improve oxygenation among COVID-19 patients, medical institutions have published guides on proning for COVID-19 patients in hospital settings, providing detailed procedures. This United Kingdom Intensive Care Society guide includes decision tools for determining eligible patients and specifications such as timed position changes and prescribed angles.

Dianne de Castro, a COVID-19 intensive care unit nurse from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), told Rappler that prone positioning is administered to patients with certain respiratory conditions, and should only be done with supervision from a healthcare professional.

“It is not advised as a home treatment for COVID-19. Yes, there are protocols, and there is a technique that only healthcare professionals should [administer]. Usually if a patient who is in moderate to severe COVID pneumonia and has acute respiratory distress syndrome and is in critical care, [doon] namin siya ginagawa (that is when we do it),” De Castro said.

She added that "inadequate management just by proning alone may lead to worsening of the COVID pneumonia."

There are also no cures for COVID-19 as of writing. In the past, Rappler has previously debunked claims on released vaccines, false cures, and home remedies such as tuob, brown sugar, and malunggay and kamias tea. – Aleijn Reintegrado/Rappler.com

This article was written by a Rappler volunteer or intern and reviewed by a member of Rappler's research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler's internship program here.

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