Singapore media insists on using ‘mechanical ventilation’ over ‘life support’

As you probably know by now, former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew is in Singapore General Hospital (SGH) after being admitted for severe pneumonia. On Thursday (26 February), the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that Mr Lee remains on mechanical ventilation, and has started on a course of antibiotics.

How local sources reported it

Here’s TODAY’s take:

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And as covered by the Straits Times:

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How international sources called it

According to TIME:

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And The Guardian:

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What is a mechanical ventilation?

Mechanical ventilation is the use of a machine to help an individual breathe normally. This process is achieved by either pumping air directly into the windpipe, or sucking air out of the lungs, or both.

The method is employed when the patient’s normal breathing is not adequate enough to sustain life.

Life support as explained by a sane person

Life support is an all-encompassing term covering all emergency techniques and treatments used to extend life after the failure of one or more organs.

However, the use of “life support” as a term is typically associated with precarious life-and-death situations. We often imagine the patient to be fighting for their life when doctors say someone is on life support.

In fact, mechanical ventilation is one of the methods listed as a life support technique. Mechanical ventilation is a form of life support.

Mainstream media distrust its readers

By choosing the use the exact words provided in the press statement, our mainstream media is continuing the trend first set by the Public Utilities Board in 2011. Yes, I’m talking about that laughable period in our lives where “ponding” was the preferred term to define a flood. Why can’t the media just call a spade a spade?

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Using the milder term “mechanical ventilation” underplays the dire situation that our founding father is in at the moment. We deserve to know just how bad things are. Stop whitewashing and treating Singaporeans like children who can’t handle serious talk.


Featured Image via Wikimedia
With reference from Wikipedia