Remote Control of Ventilators for COVID Patients Protects Clinicians from Infection


When dealing with patients infected by a contagious disease and that are suffering from acute respiratory distress, protecting clinicians is critically important. However, much of the bedside equipment that interfaces with patients in the intensive care unit has to be directly controlled, putting staff in close proximity with those infected. Now, a team at Johns Hopkins has developed a system that allows just about any device with a touch screen to be remotely operated.

The new approach very much resembles a computerized engraver, or any similar tool with two orthogonal pairs of rails that move a stylus over a flat surface. In this case, the stylus is essentially a finger that presses on the touchscreen. The operator is located at a distance from the machine and uses a computer to tell the robotic system where on the screen to push on the remote device.

The remote controller is already being trialed on ventilators that are treating COVID patients, which allows clinicians to perform quick adjustments outside the patient room without having to gear up with PPE. “This remote-control system will be a force multiplier for our frontline clinicians,” said Jonathan Cope, a respiratory therapist at Johns Hopkins. “Being able to save time to deliver more care to more patients will pay huge dividends when we face massive patient surges during pandemics.”

Here’s a Hopkins video about how respiratory therapists are using the remote control system to operate ventilators at a distance:

Via: Johns Hopkins

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