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May 20, 2020

MIT engineers propose safer ventilator sharing method

By Chloe Kent

A team of researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have come up with a new approach to splitting ventilators, which they believe could address many of the safety concerns associated with ventilator splitting.

Ventilator splitting is considered risky because there is no way to adjust the flow so that patients receive different amounts of air based on changes in their condition. To overcome this, the MIT team incorporated flow valves in each patient’s branch to allow them to control the amount of air that each receives.

The setup also includes pressure release valves that can prevent too much air from going into one patient’s lungs, as well as safety measures including alarms that go off when a patient’s air intake changes.

In April, Australian researchers demonstrated that a flow restrictor apparatus could be used to allow two patients to receive different levels of ventilation at the same time.

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