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Enhance Your Ability to Save COVID-19 Patient Lives: Guidelines for Converting Anesthesia Machines to ICU Ventilators

Posted by John Buzzelli on Mar 30, 2020 2:38:43 PM
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The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging hospitals and clinicians in a way not seen in several generations. Equipment shortages of all kinds are creating barriers to patient care and healthcare worker safety. Perhaps one of the most worrisome shortages is the lack of available mechanical ventilators for patients in acute respiratory distress as a result of COVID-19 infection. Without these machines, the ability to manage severe cases and perhaps save those patient lives is significantly compromised.

It is estimated there are between 35,000-45,000 operating rooms in the US.  Given the majority of these operating rooms have anesthesia machines with attached ventilators, these anesthesia machines can serve as a key asset in addressing the shortage of ventilators for patient care.  With the expertise anesthesiologists and CRNA’s have in managing patient airways and pulmonary care in the OR, anesthesia practices are now at forefront in helping patients recover from this virus.

Two anesthesia machines found in a large number of operating rooms in the U.S. are GE Healthcare’s Datex-Ohmeda machine and Draeger’s anesthesia machine. After reviewing information from the anesthesia machine manufacturers and working with a number of anesthesiologists, Surgical Directions has developed step-by-step user guidelines for:

1) disconnecting the anesthesia machines,

2) prepping them to be moved, and

3) setting up the anesthesia machines in a bedside location for ventilatory-only support.

Until the current COVID-19 crises, the intended use of these anesthesia machines has been limited under government-mandated manufacturer guidelines to operating room use for the delivery of anesthetics.  However, in response to the urgent need for ventilators the FDA has released guidance on the use of these machines for COVID-19 patients: Enforcement Policy for Ventilators and Accessories and Other Respiratory Devices During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).[1] We will be publishing another blog regarding important elements of documentation that need to be collected regarding the use of anesthesia machines outside the operating room to ensure proper reimbursement. 

In an effort to assist hospitals with this newly approved usage, we are happy to provide healthcare providers with the user guidelines we developed in consultation with manufacturer and Federal documentation. Simply contact me at jbuzzelli@surgicaldirections.com to request your free copy of either the GE Healthcare – Datex-Ohmeda machine or Draeger Anesthesia Machine guidelines. In your email, please specify which user guide you need.

Surgical Direction is your partner through the COVID-19 crisis. We have numerous solutions to optimize resources, support preference card and SPD cleaning efforts during ‘downtimes,’ efficiently reschedule postponed cases, when ready, and provide interim leadership and mentorship. Contact us at info@surgicaldirections.com for more information.

[1] FDA Policy Guidance, March 22, 2020, retrieved from: https://www.fda.gov/regulatory-information/search-fda-guidance-documents/enforcement-policy-ventilators-and-accessories-and-other-respiratory-devices-during-coronavirus

Tags: Anesthesia, Technology, Healthcare technology, Hospitals, COVID-19

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