Social Distancing — Covid; Quadrupling Ventilator Capacity

Social Distancing -- Covid; Quadrupling Ventilator Capacity 1

As most of us know, the primary reason for social distancing is to slow down the rate of infections in our communities, which will have the effect of not overwhelming our hospitals.  Preventing our hospitals from overload will ensure that there are sufficient hospital beds and mechanical ventilators available for the critically ill. While social distancing will very likely be effective in most regions of our country, there are other regions that waited too long to implement and are already beginning to see the impacts on hospitals.  We are trying to avoid forcing doctors to choose which patients get ventilated and which do not. This would mean that the patient who does not get the ventilator will surely perish. This sounds far fetched but it has been happening for over a month in Italy already, causing hundreds if not thousands of deaths, which can be directly attributed to a shortage of mechanical ventilators n particular, but also due to a major shortage of hospital beds and medical providers.

Thankfully, manufacturing of distribution of ventilators have gone into high gear, and the FDA just granted emergency approval for a device that converts one ventilator machine into the equivalent of four ventilator machines. It is a relatively simple valve device that connects the mechanical ventilator to four different tubes, which can be used for four patients at a time.  While this is highly suboptimal, with regard to adapting the settings so that each patient can be managed according to their own ventilation requirements, the ability to increase ventilator capacity is of utmost importance right now and may very well may save thousands of lives.

Check out the device at the following website.

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Justin Groode MD | Patient Advocate Alliance LLC

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Tami Rockholt

    This is great – have there been any research on how much aeration is getting into 4 patients vs just 1 patient?

    1. Justin Groode

      This is a very important question. The problem with this situation is that there has not yet been research into this because we’ve never had to navigate something like this. The only prior information that I am aware of, though I have not seen with my own eyes, comes from an ER physician from Detroit who has previously taught other doctors how to accomplish this in an emergency setting, almost as a jerry-rigging maneuver. This device was granted emergency approval by the FDA, but I don’t know if the product comes with specifications about the settings on a mechanical ventilator. I know this does not answer your question. I highly doubt that this device can be adjusted such that it could shunt more ventilation to one of the four chambers preferentially over another. What this probably means is that each person connected to the same mechanical ventilator, via this new device, would very likely be stuck with the exact same settings, making it impossible to individualize the settings to match the specific ventilation requirements of each patient. This is clearly not an optimal solution, but if it means getting on a ventilator versus not getting on a ventilator, then it has the potential to save lives. Hence the FDA’s determination for granting emergency approval.

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