Ventilators made out of garden hoses & 4 other updates on the scarce medical device

Ventilators have made national headlines as the U.S. grapples with a shortage of the medical device used to give breathing support to the most severely ill COVID-19 patients. 

Though only a small number of COVID-19 patients become sick enough to require a ventilator, the U.S. still needs about 31 times the number it has to treat patients, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Medical School

Five updates on ventilators in the U.S.:

  1. General Motors was contracted by the federal government to produce 30,000 ventilators for $489.4 million. The contract is the first under the Defense Production Act and will require all the ventilators to be delivered to the government by the end of August.

  2. The University of Mississippi Medical Center is making ventilators out of garden hoses. Developed by Charles Robertson, MD, a pediatric anesthesiologist at the Jackson, Miss.-based hospital, the ventilators are designed to be made out of simple materials that are likely available in any city, USA Today reported. The "Robertson Ventilator" is made using a garden hose, lamp timer and electronic valve and can be put together in about 20 to 30 minutes. It is intended to be used only as a hospital's last resort. The medical center has applied for emergency use authorization from the FDA to use the ventilators.

  3. Some critical care physicians think ventilators are being overused. Large numbers of patients could be treated with less intensive respiratory support, such as breathing masks or nasal cannulas, some physicians say, according to STAT. In some COVID-19 patients, blood oxygen levels fall to levels hardly ever seen, so physicians have often been quick to put patients on a ventilator to give them breathing support. But because physicians have never dealt with COVID-19 before February, they may be basing the decision on whether or not to put a patient on a ventilator on conditions for which there aren't sufficient guidelines.

  4. Most patients put on ventilators won't survive. Dennis Carroll, former director of the U.S. Agency for International Development's infectious disease unit, told USA Today that about one-third of COVID-19 patients on ventilators survive. The longer a patient is intubated, the lower the chance of survival. COVID-19 patients are often on a ventilator for 10 days or more, according to USA Today. There are also risks associated with ventilators, such as germs getting into the lungs and causing infection.

  5. Xerox is mass-producing disposable ventilators. Xerox, the company known for making copies, will make cheap, disposable ventilators under a deal with a small Sacramento, Calif.-based devicemaker, according to NBC News.  Xerox will make Go2Vent ventilators, cheap devices often used by first responders in emergencies and disasters. Xerox said it aims to produce 150,000 to 200,000 ventilators a month by June with help from Vortran Medical. Go2Vent is already FDA approved and doesn't require electricity. It would be used on lower-risk patients to free up hospital-grade ventilators for the most severely ill patients, according to NBC News.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars