Galway Team Designs Adjustable Ventilation System to Treat Two Patients from One Ventilator

Apr 10 2020 Posted: 08:27 IST

New system to safely deliver adjustable ventilation and will halve the number of ventilators needed for patients

Clinicians and members of the medical technology (MedTech) sector in Galway have designed a new ventilation system to maximise the usage of ventilators treating patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Inspire Team, based at NUI Galway, have designed a new system to support clinicians to safely split ventilation between two patients, while maintaining the ability to individualize the breath size and the pressure levels required by each.  With health systems globally coming under significant pressure to ventilate COVID-19 patients, it is hoped this new system can help alleviate the pressure on resources in hospitals. 

The system is being made available to health services globally on the website and it has been designed so that it can be replicated using medically approved ventilator equipment that already exists in most hospitals.

The system allows for delivery of the correct lung volume based on each patient’s requirements which can be adjusted as necessary. The amount delivered can be verified through a tablet connected to the ventilator, giving more confidence to the clinicians through individual patient monitoring. The design has been approached from a COVID patient perspective. Patient requirements can vary and the team have ensured that the volume can be adjusted for each patient to cater for this and adjust over time as needed. This is particularly effective for people with lung disease or respiratory illness.

Speaking today, alongside co-leads Jack Connolly and Atif Shahzad, Tim Jones said: “The team has come together mindful of the need for speed in developing and sharing solutions that can treat the COVID-19 pandemic. We are making our findings available to colleagues worldwide to help alleviate some of the pressure on hospitals challenged by a shortage of ventilators.  We are meanwhile moving to complete sensor and interface prototypes and rigorously test the full system, with all findings to be shared widely as soon as they’re available.”

The Inspire Team is comprised of alumni of the BioInnovate medical device training programme at NUI Galway, who work throughout Galway, one of the world’s MedTech hubs, where approximately half of the world’s ventilators are produced.   

Commenting on the potential benefits to hospitals Professor John Laffey, Professor of Anaesthesia at the School of Medicine in NUI Galway, and a Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at Galway University Hospitals, remarked: “The idea of using a ventilator to ventilate the lungs of two patients is very much a last resort. Unfortunately, we have heard some reports of intensive care colleagues in other countries in the tragic situation of having to choose which one of two COVID-19 patients to offer ventilator support to. This innovation will change that decision from one of having to decide which patient to provide this life supporting technology to allowing one to provide ventilatory support to both patients, buying time to allow one source additional ventilators. This solution developed in Galway is an important advance over others because it allows one to control key ventilatory parameters for each patient separately, which is really important for a severe lung disease like COVID-19, and it monitors each patient separately.”

Speaking today, President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “Experts in the Galway med-tech hub are playing an active part in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Inspire Team have come together from a range of industry and clinical backgrounds with one aim – to help patients during this pandemic.  It’s a core value of our University to work for the public good and the alumni of our Bioinnovate programme are exemplars of this mind-set, by sharing their knowledge globally to support health systems and humanity around the world.”


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