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New York will allow two patients to share a single ventilator

New York state has approved technology that allows two patients to share a single ventilator, in an effort to address a desperate need as the number of coron...

Posted: Mar 26, 2020 12:18 PM
Updated: Mar 26, 2020 3:00 PM

New York state has approved technology that allows two patients to share a single ventilator, in an effort to address a desperate need as the number of coronavirus patients in the state rocketed past 37,000.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday referred to the method as 'splitting' and said it involves adding a second set of tubes to a ventilator.

'It's not ideal,' Cuomo said, 'but we believe it's workable.'

The governor has repeatedly said the state needs at least 30,000 ventilators to treat coronavirus patients, but it has only a fraction of that. Cuomo said Wednesday that New York has 4,000 ventilators in the hospital system and the federal government has sent another 4,000. The state has purchased an additional 7,000 and is looking for more.

He explained Thursday that the demand for ventilators is so high, in part, because some Covid-19 patients need them for an extended period of time. Patients in other situations are typically on ventilators for three to four days, Cuomo said, while Covid-19 patients are on them anywhere from 11 to 21 days.

The governor previewed the 'experimental' splitting strategy on Tuesday, saying, 'We have no alternative.'

At least one hospital is already using the method. Dr. Emile Bacha, chief of the division of cardiac, thoracic and vascular surgery at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, said Thursday that operating rooms had been turned into intensive care units, 'with one ventilator serving for two patients.'

The state is exploring converting anesthesia machines to works as ventilators, the governor said. But New York officials continue to search for more ventilators to add to their supply.

'We're still shopping for ventilators all across the country,' Cuomo said. 'We need more.'

Sharing ventilators presents 'myriad issues,' expert says

Asked whether splitting ventilators between patients could work, Dr. Mary Dale Peterson, president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, told CNN, 'The short answer is no.'

Sharing ventilators, she said, would present 'myriad issues you would have to contend with.'

It's not difficult to hook more than one patient up to a ventilator, Peterson said, and if there were two patients who were in the same situation, with 'exactly the same size and lung compliance and disease process, it could maybe work.'

But many patients will have different requirements, and the settings on each ventilator need to be tailored to each patient's needs. Some patients will need different levels of oxygen, for example.

'So you can imagine, one patient who has one requirement, another patient has the opposite requirement,' Peterson said. 'So you actually may do a disservice -- you will do disservice to both patients.'

Peterson favors the idea of repurposing anesthesia machines, of which there are more than 70,000 in the country, she said.

'We have ventilators on all of our anesthesia machines in every single operating room and ambulatory care center in the nation,' she told CNN.

'Before resorting to something that we believe would probably harm more patients,' she added, 'we need to fully utilize the resources that area already there that can actually save lives.'

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 394569

Reported Deaths: 5243
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60720847
Washington42359405
Marion40153516
Clackamas33040387
Lane30428361
Jackson25105363
Deschutes23795189
Umatilla15144184
Linn14859183
Douglas13523293
Josephine10278247
Yamhill9840143
Klamath9112149
Polk8325102
Benton615338
Malheur593292
Coos5768109
Columbia438056
Jefferson424366
Lincoln365852
Crook343057
Union340756
Wasco318646
Clatsop263635
Baker221833
Tillamook218046
Hood River216537
Morrow197825
Curry193939
Harney121333
Grant109116
Lake105617
Wallowa76313
Sherman1933
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5107717

Reported Deaths: 74800
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles153472027244
San Diego4091824350
Riverside3892365381
San Bernardino3762805983
Orange3352965756
Sacramento1690952452
Kern1582701828
Fresno1574692270
Santa Clara1528571928
Alameda1256281512
San Joaquin1080791835
Ventura1043091192
Contra Costa1042181056
Stanislaus919641429
Tulare867391100
San Francisco57141674
San Mateo56585631
Monterey52842626
Solano47828360
Santa Barbara47523555
Merced45309671
Sonoma43349414
Placer42458473
Imperial38932776
Kings35370367
San Luis Obispo31667360
Madera26388311
Shasta26221461
Butte25608318
Santa Cruz22402224
Yolo21722261
Marin18587249
El Dorado18448168
Sutter14646186
Napa13446106
Yuba1079891
Tehama10316131
Humboldt10294119
Nevada10112105
Mendocino864999
Lassen797656
San Benito787979
Tuolumne778491
Lake7057113
Amador580067
Siskiyou479657
Glenn458536
Calaveras445788
Del Norte377942
Colusa328321
Inyo257346
Plumas19577
Mono19034
Mariposa162218
Trinity100717
Modoc7936
Sierra2190
Unassigned1560
Alpine1080
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