Australian researchers split ventilators for COVID-19

Australian researchers split ventilators for COVID-19

Australian researchers have found that in cases of “extreme emergencies,” a single ventilator could be used between multiple patients of COVID-19 who require ventilator support. These ventilators could be split between the critically ill patients with not only COVID-19 but also other respiratory illnesses, the team of Australian researchers found. The study titled, “'Ventilator splitting with differential driving pressures using commodity hospital equipment,” was published in the latest issue of the journal Anaesthesia . Image of successful research in ventilator splitting. Image Credit: Monash University What was this study about? A new device was created whereby a single ventilator could be shared between multiple users. This could be life-saving in dire emergencies, say, researchers. The team states that this is a risky strategy because sharing ventilators could be dangerous for all the patients on it. The US Society of Critical Care Medicine and the American Association for Respiratory Care also says that it is unsafe for the patients and should not be implemented. The group said last month, “It is better to purpose the ventilator to the patient most likely to benefit than fail to prevent, or even cause, the demise of multiple patients.” The COVID-19 pandemic has stretched the healthcare system to its maximum, and in places such as Italy, Spain, and the United States, the situation is getting worse by the day. In these regions, the intensive care units are housing more and more moribund patients with COVID-19, and there is a worldwide shortage of ventilators to meet these excessive needs. Researchers and experts say that ventilator splitting has several problems, among which the main problem is different requirements of airflow, pressure, and volume of the different patients who are hooked on to it. A single machine cannot be programmed to meet the demands of different patients. There is also a risk of cross-infection, say experts. What was done in this study? This study led by Dr. Alexander Clarke, of the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne, and Monash University’s Dr. Shaun Gregory, specify that they do not recommend splitting the ventilator. Their work was supported by other researchers, Dr. Andrew Stephens and Dr. Sam Liao from the department of Engineering, Monash University, and Dr. Timothy Byrne from Department of Intensive Care and Hyperbaric Medicine, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne. They write that in particularly extreme circumstances splitting the ventilator may help patients. They add that the key risks associated with ventilator splitting could be mitigated by their method. Dr. Clarke said, “Patients with COVID-19 may develop progressive viral pneumonitis leading to severe respiratory failure. The combination of unprecedented disease burden and global supply chain disruption has resulted in worldwide shortages of medical equipment. Despite our advances in the practical application of ventilator splitting, the practice is unregulated and under-tested. But as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow, some countries, like the USA, may consider ventilator splitting on compassionate grounds. The United States of America Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has passed emergency use authorization for the splitting of ventilators.” Related Stories



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