REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Picture
Elon Musk was criticized on Thursday for apparently sending BiPAP machines, not the life-support ventilators most-needed to save coronavirus patients, to a New York hospital.
New York City Hospitals thanked Musk and Tesla in a tweet for sending "40 ventilators" to a hospital in Queens, but the photo appears to show a BiPAP machine, which is more commonly used for sleep apnea.
Some medical experts have warned that CPAP and BiPAP machines could be harmful in treating coronavirus patients by potentially spreading the disease.
But, the FDA recently issued guidance that CPAP and BiPAP machines could be substituted for ventilators as hospitals face shortages.
Musk said in a tweet that hospitals were given "exact specifications" about the machines and that hospitals "confirmed they would be critical."
Elon Musk is being criticized for appearing to send BiPAP machines, not life-support ventilators, to a hospital in New York.
In a tweet, New York City Hospitals thanked Musk and Tesla for sending "40 ventilators" to Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York. The photo appears to show a BiPAP machine, which is more commonly used for problems like sleep apnea, rather than one of the larger, more expensive life-support ventilators that hospitals around the country are asking for to treat coronavirus patients.
—NYC Health + Hospitals (@NYCHealthSystem) March 31, 2020
Musk has said that he would supply ventilators to hospitals where there are shortages, and that he would use Tesla factories to produce some.
The ventilators sent to the hospital in Queens, however, appear to be made by a company called ResMed, which told the Financial Times that "we think it's great that Tesla purchased bilevel non-invasive ventilators," more commonly referred to as BiPAP machines. "We applaud any company who can help get ventilators and other respiratory products to those in need," the company said.
The use of BiPAP machines to treat coronavirus patients is controversial. Kaiser Health News reported that using the machines with a face mask could aerosolize the virus, causing it to potentially spread faster. The American Society of Anesthesiologists similarly said in February that using CPAP or BiPAP machines "may increase the risk of infectious transmission."
But, the FDA recently said that CPAP and BiPAP machines could be used as an alternative to traditional life-support ventilators as hospitals around the country face shortages of the larger, more complex and costly ventilators.
Musk said in a tweet on Thursday that "all hospitals were given exact specifications" of the machines, and that "all confirmed they would be critical." He added that delivery of more intensive ventilators made by Medtronic would be delivered in New York City Thursday evening.
Still, some on Twitter were quick to criticize Musk for possibly overstating his actions, recalling past public snafus like Musk's infamous "funding secured" tweet.
—Hamza Shaban (@hshaban) April 2, 2020
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