Why (not) make ventilators?

22 March 2020
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Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) causes difficulty breathing as the result of fluid buildup in the lungs. It is one of the most common severe complications of COVID-19. Patients with ARDS often require mechanical ventilation to survive.

According to the American Hospital Association, it is possible that up to 900,000 people in the United States may need mechanical ventilation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Society of Critical Care Medicine estimates that approximately 200,000 are currently available.

Quickly increased ventilator production would make it possible to care for more critically ill patients.

Mechanical ventilation requires careful supervision by trained respiratory therapists to avoid complications, including permanent lung damage.

More ventilators will not improve the treatment of COVID-19 patients without enough medical professionals to use them.

Increasing ventilator supply is important, but people who are treating patients might benefit more from other supplies, such as PPE.

If you do not have knowledge or experience of mechanical ventilation and are not working with someone who does, you may be better off focusing on other projects. 

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