81 made-in-India ventilators fail the test at St George and JJ Hospital amid statewide shortage


The hospitals say the machines could not provide 100% oxygen to Covid-19 patients; one failed within 5 minutes of being plugged in.

Facing criticism for rejecting 81 India-made ventilators amid a crippling statewide shortage, doctors of St George Hospital and JJ Hospital have clarified that the machines that were donated by NGOs last month were not suitable for Covid-19 patients.

At its most lethal, the SARSCOV-2 virus attacks the lungs, making ventilators—which pump breathable air into a patient—critical for hospitals.

The ventilators donated to St George Hospital and JJ Hospital were manufactured by Delhi-based AgVa Healthcare. The machines cost around Rs 2.5 lakh each, making them one of the cheapest in the world. Other conventional machines go for more than Rs 10 lakh a piece. Since the AgVa ventilator weighs just 3.5 kg and its power consumption is low, it was expected that less critical Covid-19 patients could be moved to their homes.

But both hospitals have given the machines a thumbs down— while St George Hospital has already returned its share of 39 ventilators, JJ Hospital authorities have asked that their 42 machines be taken back.

In their feedback submitted on June 19, doctors of St George Hospital made it clear that the ventilators cannot be used for Covid-19 patients under any circumstance. The report said a test run showed a variation in FiO2 (the concentration of oxygen that is inhaled) greater than 10 per cent. “Also, one ventilator showed failure within 5 minutes of being plugged in. When these ventilators were tested on ICU patients, FiO2 did not increase to the desired level,” it said.

For a patient’s safety after intubation, FiO2 is always set at 100 per cent until adequate arterial oxygenation is reached. The AgVa ventilators, said the doctors, not only did not hit the 100 per cent-mark but also showed a discrepancy in readings. “The maximum level of displayed FiO2 did not indicate actual level delivered as patients showed signs of desaturation up to 86 per cent,” said their report.

The doctors said as soon as the patients were moved to other ventilators, they showed “immediate improvement in oxygen saturation”.

They said the issues were immediately taken up with AgVA’s engineers who had accompanied the delivery of the consignment to the hospital on May 26.

Guardian Minister Aslam Shaikh had facilitated the delivery of the ventilators to JJ Hospital

Guardian Minister Aslam Shaikh had facilitated the delivery of the ventilators to JJ Hospital

AgVa did not respond to an email query from Mirror on Sunday. It had asserted last week that its ventilators are fully functional and are suited for all ICU patients, including those affected by Covid-19. It had claimed that doctors of St George Hospital had refused to perform a test on a patient during the May 26 demonstration, and had, instead, demanded an upgraded version of the ventilators.

“In the current version, oxygen is manually regulated. In the more advanced version, it is done automatically. In both ventilators, you can reach anywhere between 21-100 per cent FiO2… It’s like having an automatic gearbox in your car. Both manual and automatic gears do the same work, but you have to work slightly to run the manual gearbox,” it had said in a statement, while refuting accusation of providing faulty machines. “These ventilators have been a workhorse in many ICUs across the country.”

AgVa had said it can ship the upgraded versions to the hospitals, but that they must use the ones supplied to them till the new stocks arrive.

Dr TP Lahane, who heads the Directorate of Medical Education and Research, has requested Mumbai City Guardian Minister Aslam Shaikh to return the 42 ventilators donated to JJ Hospital or use them on patients that do not require ICU intervention. Shaikh had organised the donation to the hospital, and the machines are still lying there.

Shaikh asked for a verification of Ag-Va’s claims. “I had facilitated the donation since the company had said the ventilators would work for Covid-19 patients. If they are not fit for use on Covid-19 patients, then the company must take them back and replace them with upgraded versions.”

Dr Dilip Pawar, who had organised the donation to JJ Hospital, could not be reached for a comment.

Traffic Police checking at Dhobi Talo for masks and two people on two-wheelers


Traffic Police checking at Dhobi Talo for masks and two people on two-wheelers


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