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Can CPAP machines help save coronavirus patients?

WNYT Staff
Updated: March 26, 2020 08:44 AM
Created: March 26, 2020 06:44 AM

There's a critical shortage of ventilators. They are the last resort to keep coronavirus patients with failing lungs-- alive.    

President Trump says 4,000 ventilators are on the way to New York State. Governor Cuomo has said, we will need many more here. 

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The state is already buying thousands of ventilators on its own. Health experts are also investigating whether multiple patients can be served by a single device.

Many people are wondering if there are any suitable replacements. Some NewsChannel 13 viewers have reached out to us, asking if CPAP machines can be used as a ventilator? If so, couldn't they be used to help the shortage?

"No, no, it cannot. A CPAP machine simply provides continuous positive airway pressure, and it will not ventilate a patient. A CPAP is generally used for obstructive sleep apnea, so that's why a patient would have it. It would be to treat their obstructive sleep apnea, which again, just provides a positive pressure and keeps the airway open," said Andrea Hoffman, Rochester Oxygen & CPAP.

So, it's a no for being a straight swap.  

Earlier this week the FDA did offer some leeway for CPAP machines and other similar devices. The agency is allowing hospitals and healthcare facilities to make tweaks to FDA-cleared products to help support patients-- depending on their condition.


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