Bengal nurses use cannulas to divide oxygen between patients

COVID-19 Health

Method comes handy during shortage of O2

Nurses at the Bolpur super specialty hospital in West Bengal have found a unique way to provide oxygen support for two critical Covid-19 patients from a single oxygen cylinder and regulator.

Madhurima Saha, a staff nurse of the hospital, informed The Observer: “Somewhere I heard that it was possible but never saw it. This situation pushed me to find a way out.”

Saha and her colleagues are using nasal cannula to form two different channels for oxygen flow. First, they tried the technique with a stethoscope. They removed the earpods of the stethoscope and formed two channels. The method worked well. The patients gave positive feedback. But stethoscopes are too costly to be used for dividing oxygen flow into two.

“In search of a cheaper way, I took a nasal cannula which costs less than Rs 200,” Saha added.

Doctors gave the method a green signal. According to them, saving a patient’s life is the ultimate goal, not the process.

Dr Sayan Mishra, who treats Covid-19 patients at the ESI Hospital, Manicktala, Kolkata, said: “This is indeed a good idea to treat mild to moderate cases because more than six litres of oxygen can’t be supplied through nasal cannula.” He ruled out the chances of infection in this process. 

Priya Dutta, a staff nurse at the Bankura Sammilani Medical College, did not apply any such process. However, she believes that this can be effective for critical patients if oxygen cylinders are scarce. 

“As those nasal cannulas are not sterile, there is a chance of infection. But nothing is more important than life. When we do not have enough supply, this is really effective in emergency situations,” said Dutta.

Saha informed The Observer that the method is effective only when both patients have almost the same oxygen level. To successfully implement the technique, the hospital is using it on patients with the same oxygen level. 

Owing to the second wave of Covid-19, India is facing a shortage of oxygen cylinders and regulators. There have been multiple news reports, from across the country, about the death of patients due to shortage of oxygen.


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