The design of a simple protective device for use when intubating patients is now being shared for free by a Taiwanese doctor to help health care providers overcome supply shortages created by the new coronavirus pandemic.
This improvised "Aerosol Box," which helps physicians perform endotracheal intubations, was created by Lai Hsien-yung (賴賢勇), an anesthesiologist with Mennonite Christian Hospital in Hualien, Taiwan.
"It all started when my friends in the medical field in China asked me in January to design something to give additional protection to medical workers in facilities that were running out of resources," Lai wrote in Chinese on his Facebook page.
"But now, most of the inquiries I get about the box are coming from my friends in the United States," Lai said.
Lai designed the Aerosol Box not to make a profit but to have it used in an emergency in these difficult times, and it therefore did not have to be sophisticated, he said.
The device can essentially be made in about half an hour at a cost of roughly NT$2,000 (US$66) by any acrylic factory, he said.
The Aerosol Box is a transparent cube made of acrylic or polycarbonate that covers a patient's head during endotracheal intubation, a necessary procedure for infected new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients who suffer respiratory failure.
It has two holes on one side through which physicians can insert their hands to perform the procedure while being shielded from the patient's respiratory droplets.
The design could come in handy, as the soaring number of COVID-19 patients worldwide means more patients will need to undergo intubation, putting medical personnel at risk as medical resources such as air-purifying respirators and N95 masks are depleted.
The design of the Aerosol Box is registered under a Creative Commons license and is free of charge to the public on condition that it not be used for commercial purposes and be properly attributed to the inventor.
The specifications and instructions for use of the gear were uploaded by Lai and his friends to the internet on Sunday and can be downloaded for free.