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A simulated single ventilator/ dual patient ventilation strategy for acute respiratory distress syndrome during the COVID-19 pandemic

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José A. Solís-Lemus, Edward Costar, Denis Doorly, Eric C. Kerrigan, Caroline H. Kennedy, Frances Tait, Steven Niederer, Peter E. Vincent, Steven E. Williams

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere200585
JournalRoyal Society open science
Issue number8
Published1 Aug 2020

King's Authors


The potential for acute shortages of ventilators at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic has raised the possibility of needing to support two patients from a single ventilator. To provide a system for understanding and prototyping designs, we have developed a mathematical model of two patients supported by a mechanical ventilator. We propose a standard set-up where we simulate the introduction of T-splitters to supply air to two patients and a modified set-up where we introduce a variable resistance in each inhalation pathway and one-way valves in each exhalation pathway. Using the standard set-up, we demonstrate that ventilating two patients with mismatched lung compliances from a single ventilator will lead to clinically significant reductions in tidal volume in the patient with the lowest respiratory compliance. Using the modified set-up, we demonstrate that it could be possible to achieve the same tidal volumes in two patients with mismatched lung compliances, and we show that the tidal volume of one patient can be manipulated independently of the other. The results indicate that, with appropriate modifications, two patients could be supported from a single ventilator with independent control of tidal volumes.

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