Ventilator Sharing: A Potential Strategy to Optimize Therapy in COVID-19 Patients
One of the major problems healthcare providers have reported in treating patients infected with COVID-19 is the shortage of ventilators, machines that help people breathe in severe respiratory conditions including acute respiratory distress syndrome in COVID-19. This has led to several rescue interventions including mass imports of ventilators and private firms turning into makeshift ventilator manufacturing companies.
Current estimates place the risk of developing acute respiratory distress syndrome at 5 percent, meaning 5 out of 100 patients could need ventilators. With epidemiologists projecting that millions of Americans may contract the virus, the 173,000 ventilators available in the country may be insufficient to meet its demand if the spread of the virus is not curtailed.
An engineer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a trauma critical care surgeon at the University of Nebraska Medical Center have teamed up to devise a strategy that could optimize ventilator use amid its shortage. Benjamin Terry and Dr. Keely Buesing built on their expertise to split ventilator use between two patients with a nearly equal match for oxygen need.
The team split the ventilators by modifying its tubing system to deliver oxygen to two people almost equally. Using a flow restrictor, healthcare providers can also regulate oxygen delivery to the patient who requires it less, to prevent problems with hyperventilation of the lungs.
The team has already run two successful trials using this setup and hopes to publish results after more experiments.