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Why is ventilator testing important?

Performing R&D, quality assurance, and other testing 

As COVID-19 cases have risen throughout 2020, the need for ventilators has skyrocketed. There has been a worldwide surge in ventilator demand with many organizations working on the rapid development of new ventilators that are cheaper and can be produced in higher volumes. As more ventilators are manufactured and used to treat patients, the need for proper ventilator testing has increased as well.

When do ventilators need to be tested/calibrated?

  • During Research & Development. Testing is required throughout the process of designing any ventilator, including the low cost, simplified ventilator models which continue to see rapid development throughout 2020.
  • During Production. Manufacturers need to perform quality assurance testing during the production process to ensure that each ventilator is performing within design specifications.
  • Service & Maintenance. Ventilators need to be tested and verified prior to their use on each new patient. In addition, preventive maintenance is performed on ventilators, usually on an annual basis.

Why is it so important to test ventilators?

Ventilators need to perform their job consistently and precisely because improper mechanical ventilation can cause serious harm to the patient. Flow and pressure sensors embedded in the ventilator are calibrated to ensure the correct breath volume is delivered to patients. If tidal breath volumes are too low, the patient would not receive enough oxygen; conversely, if tidal breath volumes are too large, then lungs could be damaged. Either scenario could lead to patient death. Testing routinely with the correct equipment ensures that the breath volume and frequency provided to the patient is appropriate.

How are ventilators tested?

Certifier Flow Analyzer PlusDifferent models of ventilators use different procedures to verify their performance, but most ventilator testing includes leak checking, high- and low-pressure accuracy, volume delivery, air and oxygen flow accuracy, and alarm checks. TSI’s Certifier Flow Analyzer Plus is a full-feature system capable of testing virtually all models of ventilators: adult, pediatric, anesthesia, neonatal, and high frequency. This ventilator tester is designed to measure air, oxygen, and nitrous oxide flow and pressure in institutional, home care, field service, laboratory, and production applications. Additionally, MSP, a Division of TSI, offers a breathing simulator, which produces a wide variety of patient breathing profiles associated with developing and testing ventilators.

What other breathing devices are used to help COVID-19 patients?

5000 Series Flow MetersCOVID-19 patients can develop pneumonia severe enough to require supplemental oxygen, but not severe enough to require a ventilator. These patients are treated with oxygen therapy, delivered through either oxygen tanks or oxygen concentrators. Oxygen concentrators pull oxygen out of the air, which eliminates the need for a constant supply of oxygen tanks, and provides a higher-than-normal percentage of oxygen to the patient. Similar to a ventilator, oxygen concentrators also need to be calibrated to ensure the embedded sensors are working properly. TSI’s 5000 Series mass gas flow meters are ideal for testing and calibrating oxygen concentrators.

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