Inventors Are Whipping Up Homemade Ventilators to Fend Off a Shortage. Some Doctors Are Wary

A mechanical ventilator can cost a hospital tens of thousands of dollars up front, and even more money each day it’s used to keep oxygen flowing into a sick patient’s lungs. It’s unsurprising, then, that some small U.S. hospitals can count theirs on one hand. There are about 160,000 ventilators in use in hospitals nationwide—about half the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. as of April 6. As the number of coronavirus diagnoses ticks upward, inventors are resorting to increasingly creative solutions to stave off an impending ventilator shortage. But the stakes are high for getting it right—and some doctors aren’t sure resorting to emergency-made ventilators is worth the risk. Dr. Ken Lyn-Kew, a pulmonologist at National Jewish Health in Colorado, commends inventors for wanting to help, but says jerry-rigged ventilators that may not work as well as the real thing present doctors with yet another difficult decision in the midst of the outbreak. “Do I do something that’s likely to be harmful for the sake of doing something,” he asks, “or do I not do something?” COVID-19 has not created so much as re-exposed the country’s ventilator supply problem. More than a decade ago, the U.S. government—recognizing the need for a larger fleet of ventilators in its Strategic National Stockpile—agreed to buy around 40,000 machines from a small California manufacturer, but the deal fell apart when th...
Source: TIME: Health - Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Tags: Uncategorized COVID-19 Source Type: news

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