Hospitals tap 3D printers to build, repair medical equipment during coronavirus pandemic

As hospitals and health systems around the U.S. face the looming threat of medical equipment shortages during the coronavirus pandemic, 3D printing is emerging as a potential solution for the issue, CNBC reports.

Earlier this month, an Italian hospital teamed up with 3D printing company Isinnova, which was able to redesign and print respiratory equipment the hospital needed for its ventilators being used by COVID-19 patients. In New York, Isaac Budmen and Stephanie Keefe were able to 3D print more than 300 face shields for healthcare workers at a coronavirus test site in Syracuse, according to the report. Mr. Budmen and Ms. Keefe run Budmen Industries, a custom 3D printer provider.

COVID-19 could leave 4.8 million patients hospitalized, with 960,000 of those individuals requiring ventilators, according to the American Hospital Association, the network reports.

"We have millions of healthcare workers around this country who are prepared to do battle against this virus, but I am concerned there are a couple of areas of supplies they need to fight that virus as effectively as possible," said Peter Slavin, MD, president of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, according to NBC News. Dr. Slavin added that protective equipment, specifically surgical masks and eye protection, is in short supply.

"We wouldn't want to send soldiers to war without helmets and armor," Dr. Slavin said. "We don't want to do the same with our healthcare workers."

On March 19, Dr. Slavin told NBC News reporter Perry Russom he is looking for people with 3D printers to help make protective masks for hospital employees.

In addition to Dr. Slavin's request, Mass General residents are also planning a virtual open "moonshot" competition to create a rapidly implementable mechanical ventilator within 90 days. Dubbed CoVent-19, the online competition is calling on engineers, designers and technologists to work with medical and ventilation experts to develop a device that allows a single hospital ventilator to treat multiple patients at once or a new type of ventilator that can be manufactured quickly.

More articles on health IT:
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CDC taps Microsoft to build COVID-19 triage chatbot

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