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Team Members:
  • Matthew Petney
  • Eric Ashuckian
  • Jan Lee
  • Pankti Shah
  • Tiffany Tseng
  • Roy Brower, MD
  • Brendan Canning, PhD
  • Geetika Sood, MD
  • Julianne Perretta, MSEd
  • Katie Mattare, RT


Annually, approximately 800,000 patients rely on mechanical ventilation (MV) delivered through a breathing tube to survive. Over time the presence of a breathing tube prevents the elimination of bacteria that build up in the lungs. Within a matter of days patients on ventilation often develop complications and secondary infections that worsen their condition. For instance, ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) increases a patient’s hospital stay by two weeks and is directly responsible for 36,000 deaths each year. Based on historic Medicare data, only 83 percent of ICU costs are compensated. ICU cases with complications and infections significantly lengthen a patient’s stay, causing the hospital to lose money. Each day in the ICU costs the hospital $3,200. When a patient develops a secondary infection such as VAP hospitals are not reimbursed for the additional resources used and lose on average $12,000 per patient.

Coughing is one of the body’s main defenses against respiratory infection. The breathing tube prevents ventilated patients from coughing effectively because it prevents the closure of the glottis, which in turn does not allow sufficient pressure to build up in the lungs. Our device, the PreVent, is a ventilator attachment that restores a patient’s ability to effectively cough and integrates seamlessly into the intensive care unit (ICU) workflow.

Preliminary data has shown that briefly obstructing the airway during an exhalation, as the PreVent does, creates an effective cough profile. The team has also performed safety testing at the Johns Hopkins Simulation Center to ensure that the PreVent does not interfere with a patient’s ventilation therapy. Over the next few months the team will perform bench testing to demonstrate efficacy in moving mucus. In addition, an IRB study has been submitted to gather flow and pressure characteristics directly from mechanically ventilated patients to develop the cough detection system.

The PreVent will help hospitals save thousands of dollars in patient care and excel in quality metrics. Most importantly, by allowing patients to safely eliminate mucus from their lungs the PreVent will improve the respiratory function of critical care patients, prevent secondary infections, and expedite recovery.

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