Monday, 30 March 2020 00:54

Medical hack – sharing a ventilator

Medical hack – sharing a ventilator Alan Drummond via Twitter

Faced with a shortage of equipment, a Canadian doctor has rigged up a ventilator to serve nine patients concurrently.

Rather than persist with the endless "doom and gloom" associated with COVID-19, we would like to deliver some good news stories instead.

According to reports, the Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital in Ontario, Canada, had just four ventilators (along with four more unrepairable units) and the COVID-19 pandemic soon proved the working ones to be wildly insufficient.

The so-called "evil genius," anaesthetist Dr Alain Gauthier, who just happens to hold a PhD in diaphragmatic mechanics, said he changed the device to serve nine patients simply to give people the best chance of survival. He also noted that the idea was based on previously published research from 2006. 

A colleague of Dr Gauthier, Alan Drummond, tweeted about the invention and within minutes Twitter was flooded with replies and re-tweets, including interest from Elon Musk. At the time of writing, Twitter was showing 18.2K retweets and 75.8K likes. Musk noted that, "A single computer, pump and pressure accumulator would be fine for many patients, but ideally individual valves per patient to personalise care & avoid cross-flow risk."

The image above shows just four outlets connected, but the unit is capable of providing services to nine patients, it was not stated, but presumably the ventilator wasn't powerful enough to provide service to additional patients and all would received reduced pressure.

Following the tweet, many others added to the discussion, noting that this had been done previously, particularly in wartime scenarios where equipment was in short supply and patients were not.

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David Heath

David Heath has had a long and varied career in the IT industry having worked as a Pre-sales Network Engineer (remember Novell NetWare?), General Manager of IT&T for the TV Shopping Network, as a Technical manager in the Biometrics industry, and as a Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer in the industrial control sector. In all aspects, security has been a driving focus. Throughout his career, David has sought to inform and educate people and has done that through his writings and in more formal educational environments.



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