Can one ventilator be hooked up to 2 or more patients?

Ventilator
Photo credit zilli/Getty Images

One of the biggest problems created by the coronavirus pandemic is that it is sickening more people than doctors and hospitals can handle at one time. The governor says the New Orleans area is facing a critical mass of patients that will be unable to breathe on their own, and not enough ventilators to breathe for them when that time comes.

"It's the one thing that really keeps my up at night right now," said Edwards. The governor said current projections show the New Orleans region surpassing its capacity by April 5. 

Doctors and engineers are considering stretching the ventilator supply by exploring the feasibility of using one machine to serve two or more patients.

"Doctors and the engineers are trying to come up with to really extend the availability of these critical life saving machines that help people breathe," Dr. Ben Springgate of LSU Health New Orleans told WWL-TV. "Trying to modify them safely so that they can use tubing that will extend to two separate patients that might be separated from one another by a few feet."

Dr. Springgate said it would be an unusual maneuver, brought about by unusual circumstances.