09 July 2011 - by ~ 0 Comments

Ventilator go BOOM!

Wednesday before last I had my LTV 800 ventilator traded out for preventative maintenance as usual. At 1:30 in afternoon the RT from my provider came out to exchange the vent with one freshly rebuilt and reconditioned vent directly from Viasys Healthcare. Everything went without a hitch. My settings were transferred to the new vent and swapped with the reconditioned one. Everything was good.

At 9 PM I began watching the second or third episode Combat Hospital we recorded on the DVR in the living room on the family TV. While it is too early in the series to become overly attached to it, I wanted to see it. A few minutes went by and I was just starting to get engaged with the story when I suddenly heard a loud pop followed by a clicking noise coming from the new vent. I went to take a breath and the machine tried to blow air but instead it began to alarm. I then said aloud, “my vent just failed.” So I had my dad attempt to turn the vent off then back on to see if the problem would resolve itself but instead it only got worse. It started turn on and off by itself and kept alarming. The clicking turned into more of a buzzer type noise much like an old fashioned alarm clock. I can still breathe well enough on my own so there was no need to hurry to get me back on a vent right away. So this must be some sort of record; it failed after only 7 hours of use!

Because of the vent failure my mom put me in bed so I could get on my BiPAP. My dad got on the phone and called the provider’s emergency number to get the vent replaced right away. The whole time the defective vent wouldn’t shut up or stay off so we took it off the wheelchair and put it in the garage because it was pretty loud. I didn’t have the show I was watching recorded in my room so I ended up watching So, You Think You Can Dance instead. Within a short period of time we received a call from the other RT on staff to let us know she was on her way to the provider’s facility to pick up another vent for me to use. Apparently she was at a restaurant with her husband having a late dinner and received our message right after receiving the check. Her baby was crying in the background which made me feel a little bad for her that she had to come out to our house so late but, as stated by her, she is always on call and it is her job to take care of issues like this when they develop.

Because my RT was coming out as soon as possible to replace the vent we put the vent back on the chair and my dad rolled my wheelchair into the living room. When she got here my mom and dad demonstrated the problem and it was clearly very badly messed up. I was very strange for this vent to break so fast not only because it just came back from the manufacturer but it had most of its internal components replaced with new ones. The one the RT brought to replace the defective one was my old vent that had been switched out early in the day. It turns out the vent has another 3000 or so hours left on it until the required preventative maintenance must be done. The reason for the amount of hours still left on it is because I only use it during the day when I am up and the rest of the time I am on my BiPAP.

To sum it all up, ventilators like any machine can still fail even when the preventative measures have been made. Because of this it is important to be prepared in the event of vent failure. Always have backup equipment readily available whether it is another vent, a BiPAP machine, an Ambu-Bag, or glossopharyngeal breathing (AKA frog breathing or breath stacking). Also, it should be noted that a ventilator is only as good as the provider providing it to the end user. The provider has to be willing to drop what they are doing to fix or replace your vent when something goes awry. If you find them unavailable, then it’s time to find a new company.