A research project out of the IWK Health Centre is developing a disposable device that will protect health care workers from contracting COVID-19 while they perform high risk aerosol generating procedures on infected patients. The device would be placed over the patient like a “bubble” to contain and filter infected air during such procedures as intubation and extubation. The contained, controlled and filtered air would prevent the virus from spreading around the room and hospital.
A highly infectious respiratory virus with long incubation, asymptomatic transmission and lasting environmental stability, COVID-19 places health care workers at a high risk of contracting the infection and transmitting it to their patients. The virus is transferred mainly by contact with infected mucus and by breathing in mucus droplets that are released when the patient coughs or sneezes.
“This device should be simple to use, rapidly deployed and allow the operator unimpeded access during intubation,” says Dr. Ana Sjaus, anesthesiologist and lead investigator. “It also has to be effective in containing and trapping the virus so it can be easily disposed of in a sanitary fashion.”
To prevent breathing in viral droplets and aerosol, health care workers have to wear “advanced” PPE for intubation. This equipment is in short supply worldwide and the shortage will most likely continue for as long as the pandemic.
“The device will not only improve NSHA/IWK health care worker and patient safety but could decrease the front line workers anxiety and the strain on the Provincial PPE stockpiles and offer solutions for patient isolation in difficult airway room environments,” says Matt d’Entremont of the Nova Scotia Product Design and Development Centre. “The disposable device could be easily produced by a local manufacturer and eventually exported to help health care workers around the world.”
This study is one of 40 made possible by the Nova Scotia COVID-19 Research Coalition, which includes the IWK Health Centre and IWK Foundation. The coalition has made a collective investment of just over $1.5 million in COVID-19 focused research.