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Press: Several Intensive Care Units Receive Ventilators Unfit for Hospital Use

Hungary Today 2020.05.16.

Several health-care workers claim that the government has delivered dozens of ventilators aimed to help coronavirus patients, to several intensive care units in different hospitals that are unfitted for this purpose; furthermore, their use poses a direct threat to the health of patients, government-critical Magyar Hang reports. The government refutes these allegations, saying hospitals are using the appropriate devices following professional guidelines.

The government has procured and delivered devices to several intensive care units specialized for coronavirus patients that are only suitable for the treatment of sleep-related respiratory disorders and other different types of lung diseases. Besides, they are meant for home treatment, several sources informed Magyar Hang.

Many healthcare institutions across the country have received ResMed Lumis 150 devices from Hungary’s central warehouse.

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The equipment, according to the manufacturer’s website, is a non-invasive CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) ventilator device designed to make breathing for patients with stable conditions who do not have any infectious diseases, easier. The main advantage of the equipment is that it requires no special expertise to use it.

One of the machine’s greatest flaws, however, is that it cannot be used for tracheal intubation, although this would be essential for treating a patient with pneumonia, an anonymous doctor working in an intensive care unit at a rural hospital told the news outlet.

Another critical function of ventilators used in intensive care units is that the oxygen level of the ingoing gas mixture can be adjusted, but this is also missing from this type of equipment. Ventilation of patients with variable oxygen needs and pneumonia is explicitly prohibited without this function, as it would endanger their safety, he added.

In addition to being unsuitable for invasive ventilation, all of the device’s default language setting is Chinese, and not many health-care workers in Hungary speak the language.

He also drew attention to the fact that the device was designed to be used by only one patient. However, should several patients use it, the respirator tube must be replaced each time, as the required extent of sterilization otherwise would not be possible, so operating these machines cost-effectively is also impossible.

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Lastly, the manufacturer has neither any distributor nor support network in Hungary, although all hospital equipment in the intensive care needs regular inspection and maintenance, he concluded.

Another source told the paper that more than ten of these machines had arrived at their hospital, although they didn’t need them. He likened the situation to a country acquiring gliders for air defense, and are trying to deploy them effectively.

Gov’t refutes claims

Tamás Menczer, State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, refuted the claims of the article while on a program of commercial broadcaster ATV. The politician said there were no mistakes during the acquisition of the equipment since naturally medical experts are helping the government.

Hospitals use these machines under professional medical guidelines for exactly what they are intended for, Menczer said. These devices might be in need in the first and third stages of the disease (e.g. before and after intubation).

Patients who require treatment are ventilated with the appropriate machine at each stage of the disease.

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Finally, Tamás Menczer also asked the opposition and opposition media “not to root against the government.”

Asked about the unfit ventilators during his regular (online) press briefing on Thursday, PMO Head Gergely Gulyás said that at the time the epidemic started to become more intense, Hungary had 2,700-2,800 anesthesia and ventilator machines in total, while experts estimated that 8,000 of them are needed to make sure the same thing won’t happen as in Italy.

Meanwhile, due to the extreme global demand for the devices, opportunities have greatly narrowed. That is why the government as a general rule made an agreement with everybody with whom it was possible.  Right now, Hungary has 5,000 ventilators, each of which is inspected by a medical team of experts upon arrival. Most of the machines are bought from China.

Stocks will continue to expand, with the government buying 8,500-9,000 machines. They won’t let anybody die due to a lack of machines.

Featured photo by Károly Árvai/kormany.hu/MTI