The 3D printing of an adapter to connect multiple patients to single ventilator is a concept that has been floating around in the news over the past few weeks. Conceptually, the setup is simple, use two 4-way splitters to connect the inspiratory and expiratory limbs of a ventilator to 4 intubated patients. Although the implementation and management of patients ventilated in this manner is not as simple. The first mention of this concept comes from a 2006 article from the Journal of Academic Emergency Medicine entitled “A single ventilator for multiple simulated patients to meet disaster surge.” The first reported implementation occurred in 2017 when Emergency Physicians at Sunrise medical center in Las Vegas successfully placed two patients on a single ventilator after an influx of intubated patients overwhelmed their ED during the Las Vegas Shootings.
Currently, at least one hospital in New York is attempting to place multiple patients on single ventilators during the COVID-19 crisis. It seems unlikely that this technique will be successful in patient with severe lung disease; however, there are groups that are working on more complex valve systems to make the process function better.
Here is my video discussing the 3D printing of a simple Multi-Patient Ventilator adapter:
Here is a great article from PulmCrit discussing the mechanics of performing multi-patient ventilation: