Prisma Health unveils ventilator extension device for COVID-19 patients

Joanna Estrada
March 30, 2020

Ventilator shortage is more acute in Washington, California and NY. Prisma Health is making the VESper available upon request via its printing specifications, but it should be noted that the emergency use authorization under which the FDA approved its use means that this is only intended effectively as a last-resort measure - for institutions where ventilators approved under established FDA rules have already been exhausted, and no other supply or alternative is available in order to preserve the life of patients.

"Immediately, we realized we had an opportunity to impact patient outcomes all over the country, and potentially beyond the USA", said Marjorie Jenkins, M.D., chief academic officer for Prisma Health, in a statement. VESper uses 3D printing technology and is developed with material already in use for medical devices. "The VESper™ device can be lifesaving when the number of critically ill patients requiring breathing support is greater than the number of available ventilators". Evidently, emergency use authorization can provide critical care patients access to medical equipment that hasn't received normal FDA approval.

Ventilators have become a necessity when it comes to saving the lives of infected patients in critical condition, but there is a growing shortage of the bedside machines in hospitals in the U.S. as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads rampantly across the country and the world. Prisma Health is working with COVID-19 health care teams across the country that have no more ventilator capacity and can initiate emergency use of the prototype.

Prisma Health said it will work closely with these units during their field testing to monitor clinical outcomes. Apparently, these field test will determine whether the device is designed and performs as per FDA guidelines. A ventilator is a machine created to provide mechanical ventilation by moving breathable air into and out of the lungs, to deliver breaths to a patient who is physically unable to breathe, or breathing insufficiently.

Prisma Health said two VESper devices are needed for each ventilator, one on the intake and one on the return. The device is made for use with ventilators that comply to existing ISO standard ventilator hardware and tubing, and allows use of filtering equipment to block any possible transmission of viruses and bacteria. Acting as a Y-shaped connector, the device splits air flow to the ventilator.

Prisma Health claims that multiple combinations of the device can be configured to enable a single ventilator to be extended to four patients.

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