Mumbai doctor makes using manual ventilator safer | Bombay News

Dr Prathamesh Prabhudesai

MUMBAI: A Mumbai-born doctor has secured $1 million in funding from the US National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop his innovation that makes manual ventilators safer for patients. Dr. Prathamesh Prabhudesai, an alumnus of KEM Hospital currently based in New York, has already been contacted by the US Air Force for his “accurate” ventilator.
Prabhudesai’s ventilator falls into the category of “bag-valve masks” or “self-inflating bag” hand-held by a doctor, nurse or, sometimes, parent to help patients who are unable to breathe well. However, studies have shown that providers are unable to provide safe breaths most of the time, leading to life-threatening complications. “Those using the bag ventilator sometimes press too hard or too fast,” said the 28-year-old doctor, who grew up in Goregaon and completed MBBS from KEM Hospital in Parel.
American studies have shown that 13.1 million resuscitation bags are used in the United States each year, but 81% of the time these bags are used inappropriately and lead to life-threatening complications with a mortality rate of up to 40 %.
Prabhudesai chose pocket valve safety as his thesis topic for his postgraduate studies in the United States; he and his classmate set up an intuitive automatic pressure and flow regulation device for resuscitators. Called Sotair, it ensures that a constant “flow, pressure and tidal volume of breaths” are delivered to a patient and can be used by people with minimal training.
When awarding the $1 million prize, the NSF noted that the project will help bridge the gap between manual and mechanical ventilation, helping first responders in the Covid-19 pandemic. “At the height of the Covid pandemic, this technology was evaluated in a preclinical randomized controlled crossover trial and published in the peer-reviewed British Medical Journal, Innovation,” said Dr Prabhudesai.
The study found that the device could replace mechanical ventilators without suspending care and rationing resources during crises.
“Early on, I realized that technology was changing at a very rapid pace, but healthcare as an industry was mostly unaffected. Change in healthcare is much slower,” said he told TOI during a telephone conversation. He said advances in engineering could solve problems associated with low doctor-to-patient ratios, access and training. Therefore, as a medical student at KEM Hospital Medical School, he started visiting BETiC Lab at IIT, Powai in his free time. “I then joined the biomedical engineering program at Georgia Technique,” he said.
He is awaiting US Food & Drug Administration approval for his device. “The idea is to improve the quality of care through innovation,” he said.
“In India, we are so busy focusing on day-to-day work that we miss long-term trends and opportunities,” he said. “In the United States, it’s common for medical students to identify high-impact problems, invent medical devices, and bring them to market. Most devices replace a doctor’s time-consuming tasks or help treat chronic diseases. In the past 10 years, many ecosystems have rotated in the United States and India, such as Stanford India Biodesign at AIIMS and Betic Lab at IIT Bombay,” he said.


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