Ventilator shortage during coronavirus? 3-D printing could save lives

UC anesthesiologist discusses ventilators

Imagine printing a three-dimensional piece of plastic that could help save a coronavirus patient’s life. 3-D printing is one solution proposed to address an expected shortage of ventilators, machines that keep patients whose lungs are severely damaged alive.  Experts are expecting a shortages of ventilators as the number of people impacted by the coronavirus pandemic grows in the U.S.

Ventilators work through a breathing tube inserted into a person’s windpipe. The machine inflates the lungs with air and then deflates the lungs, removing carbon dioxide. A medical professional uses a computer to control the amount of pressure placed on the lungs and the amount of oxygen.

Coronavirus patients are at risk of pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome, which has a high mortality rate. Dr. Suzanne Bennett, an associate professor at the UC College of Medicine and an anesthesiologist at UC Health, discussed the workings of ventilators.

A traditional ventilator costs about $25,000 to $50,000. Bennett said some of the “bells and whistles" on a hospital-grade ventilator help medical professionals operate the machine effectively, and reduce the workload for respiratory therapists. With a shortage, respiratory therapists would be spread thin.

“I think all of us are concerned with the safety of that patient in that situation,” she said.

Read the interview with Dr. Bennett.

Related Stories


WLWT: Hospital systems working through multiple viruses spiking

December 2, 2022

Hospitals in the Cincinnati area are dealing with what some are calling a 'tripledemic' of RSV, COVID-19 and the flu. WLWT reported that according to the Health Collaborative, COVID-19 hospitalizations across Ohio counties in greater Cincinnati are at 176 patients. That's 41 more than Friday. About 180 people are hospitalized with the flu. It's a major spike from the week before. One of the experts cited by WLWT is Carl Fichtenbaum, MD, of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the UC College of Medicine.


Victoria Morgan encourages Cincinnatians to stay healthy and...

November 29, 2022

You may know Victoria Morgan as the recently retired Artistic Director of the Cincinnati Ballet, but now she has a new goal: helping Cincinnatians stay healthy and active as they age. The Osher Center for Integrative Health at the University of Cincinnati hosted a Movement as Medicine Event on November 3, 2022 at the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute featuring Victoria’s VM workout.

Debug Query for this