There's been a call for splitting ventilators — a controversial practice that would allow hospitals to treat multiple COVID-19 patients on the same machine — to address the shortage of ventilators in the United States. In response, Johns Hopkins engineers have created a prototype ventilator splitter using a 3D printer.
These splitters would help to address some of the concerns some experts have expressed about the process of splitting ventilators for multiple people.
According to a Johns Hopkins press release on the project, the prototype has:
- an air-flow controller, so each person gets the proper amount of air flow they require
- a flow meter for healthcare workers to check on and adjust the air flow as needed for each person
- a filter to cut down on cross-contamination
The engineers are hoping to get their prototype finalized and ready for testing in the next few weeks, which would involve observing how the splitter works on model lungs. If it's approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the team plans to make its design open-source and available for others.