New ventilator technique could quadruple patients helped

Coronavirus

COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII

HONOLULU (KHON2) — There is now a way to treat up to four COVID-19 patients off of a single ventilator.

Straub Medical Center Anesthesiologist Donald Gaucher, MD and a team including University of Hawaii faculty developed this method.

State officials in Hawaii say there are about 535 ventilators in the state and about 15 percent are being used right now.

This technique would be implemented only in an emergency if all ventilation capacity has been used.

According to Woo, this system uses a series of valves and 3D-printed materials to individually regulate the flow, volume and pressures to each of the patients sharing the ventilator. It allows for individualizing multiple elements of the respiratory care.

The team is conducting additional testing to improve the system before the need is great in Hawaii.

Doctors worldwide are working on ways to treat more than one patient with a single ventilator.

This Hawaii advancement allows patients to receive individualized care.

One of the challenges researchers needed to overcome was instituting safety measures to prevent cross-contamination between patients. Through this technique, doctors worldwide may make modifications based on the availability of parts in their areas. Trimble said doctors can build a slightly modified version if they can access a hardware store.

Others involved in the project include:
-Russell Woo, MD (John A. Burns School of Medicine associate professor of surgery and Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children pediatric surgeon)
-A Zachary Trimble (University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa mechanical engineering associate professor)
-Scott Miller (UH Manoa mechanical engineering associate professor)
-Brennan Yamamoto (2019 UH Mnoa mechanical engineering PhD graduate and researcher for the University of Hawaii Applied Research Laboratory)

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