Emergency solution to shortage of ventilators for Covid-19 patients

Emergency solution to shortage of ventilators for Covid-19 patients

International working group led by VUB puts manual for building shared ventilators online

An international working group of medical specialists and engineers has published an open source manual with reliable information on creating shared ventilation equipment. The manual provides health specialists with accessible information on connecting multiple patients to one ventilator.

“No medical specialist would be happy to apply this, but in countries and situations where there are no other solutions, sharing a single device between multiple patients is best done in the safest and most effective way possible,” says Hannah Pinson of VUB’s Applied Physics Research Group and Data Analytics Lab, the coordinator of the Differential Multiventilation International Working Group. “Fortunately, we haven’t had to use this in Belgium so far. But we now have this medical and technical knowledge up our sleeves, and the advantage of this approach is that all the necessary parts can be found in the hospitals themselves or in local shops, so this online manual can be used anywhere in the world.

In an ideal world, no one would connect multiple patients with Covid-19 to a single ventilator. But healthcare workers in severely affected regions sometimes have to find a balance between the available resources and their patients’ needs. In the most extreme case, they should therefore consider connecting several patients to a single ventilator.

For each additional necessary component, the Differential Multiventilation International Working Group has drawn up a list of possibilities. All the proposed components are available in hospitals, can be bought in the medical sector or in local shops, or can be 3D printed. medical specialists can assemble a circuit themselves using the manual, without much effort.

“The teams in our working group have tested different possibilities, and several scientific manuscripts have been submitted to different journals,” says Pinson. “The online manual centralises all this information. The goal is to offer a solid and simple ‘differential multiventilation’ setup without added electronics or software, that is easy to understand and easy to perform for experienced healthcare professionals. However, this setup allows the caregiver to set, refine and monitor pressure and volume for each patient individually.”

Differential Multiventilation International Working Group is comprised of more than 30 medical specialists and engineers from hospitals and universities in Belgium, the US, the UK, Norway, Switzerland, Australia and Canada. The working group began as a test facility built by Dr Matthias Mergeay MD, Dr. Michiel Stiers MD and Dr. Luc Janssen MD, at Geel Hospital.


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