Evaluation Background: Transport Ventilators, Evaluated for Pandemic Readiness Use

October 17, 2023 | Evaluations & Guidance

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Here's background for our Evaluations of transport ventilators used for pandemic readiness, outlining the key considerations for making wise purchasing decisions. Learn how the technology is used, which specs are important, and what factors we test for. Also review our latest product ratings and ECRI's data describing hospitals' interest in each vendor.

Transport ventilators provide breathing support for patients while they are being transported within different areas of the hospital or from one hospital to another. Transport ventilators with advanced features may also be used as intensive care ventilators (either as a primary or backup option, depending on the level of sophistication), as well as for long-term care or home use. Transport ventilators can also be stockpiled for use in a pandemic or other emergency that may result in a large number of patients who need respiratory assistance; that application is the focus of this article. (Note that ventilators designed specifically for pandemic/stockpiling use are available; however, many of them lack many basic features and are inadequate even for emergency/stockpiling use; see the Ventilators to Avoid​​ section below.)

Transport ventilators have the following defining characteristics: They operate on battery power, they do not require an external source of compressed air for basic operation, and they are portable—they can be easily carried or moved with the patient.

Major device components typically include the following:

  1. Flexible breathing circuit—delivers breaths from the ventilator to the patient

  2. Control system—selects the ventilation mode and adjusts parameters to produce a prescribed breathing pattern

  3. Gas supply—provides mixes of air and oxygen for each breath

  4. Pneumatic module—controls the gas flows and pressures

  5. Monitoring and alarm system—measures inspired and expired breath parameters and...

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