MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers say they have a way of splitting ventilators which could address many of the safety concerns — potentially boosting the supply of ventilators amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
They have demonstrated their concept’s effectiveness in the lab — but they still caution it should be used only as a last resort during an emergency when a patient’s life is at stake.
Ventilators should only be shared as a last resort. One problem: Patients sharing the ventilator must all have the same lung capacity. If one patient’s lung function improves or another’s deteriorates, one patient may receive the right amount of air but other may be out of luck.
Basically the MIT team incorporated flow valves, one for each patient’s branch, that allow them to control the amount of air that each receives. “These flow valves allow you to personalize the flow to each patient based on their needs. They also ensure that if one patient either improves or deteriorates, quickly or slowly, there’s a way to adapt for that,” said Giovanni Traverso, an MIT assistant professor of mechanical engineering and a gastroenterologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
The researchers are seeking to engage with third parties to seek FDA emergency use authorization for their approach.