Brandon Lawrence, MD 3/10/21 9:15 AM 5 min read

Aerosol Generating Procedures and the SCONE

In early February, citizens of Melbourne, Victoria in Australia were forced to return to lockdown after 17 new cases of COVID-19 were discovered among nine Melbourne households.

 

The origin of these new cases was traced back to the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport, where travelers were quarantining themselves after arriving in the city [1]. Although the families in the hospital were taking necessary precautions in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, these actions were unable to keep residents and hotel staff from contracting the virus.

WHAT WAS THE CAUSE OF THIS SPREAD?

A COVID positive individual used a nebulizer inside the hotel, generating infectious aerosols that spread throughout the hotel floor to staff members and other families. The person using the nebulizer, a man suffering from chronic asthma is believed to have used the device on the third floor of the hotel, causing the virus to become aerosolized and disperse throughout the floor and infect other individuals [1]. 

In addition to the man’s family, an officer who was in the corridor on the same floor as this family contracted the virus [1]. This was discovered through routine testing required as a part of the hotel’s quarantine program. A couple of days later, another resident who was staying on the third floor of the Holiday Inn tested positive for COVID-19 soon followed by one of the hotel’s food and beverage worker [1].

By the end of the week, several other people who were in the hotel at the time the nebulizer was used, including another resident and other Holiday Inn staff members, tested positive for COVID-19. Many of these individuals also had close contacts who contracted COVID, causing the cluster of cases that led to a new lockdown in Melbourne [2].

Even without close contact with COVID-positive individuals, people can contract COVID-19 when they come into contact with infectious aerosols, which can remain in the air for hours. This makes it difficult to stop the spread of COVID-19, especially in confined spaces or in areas where there have been aerosol-generating procedures. 

As seen in Melbourne, Victoria, one aerosol-generating action from an individual who ends up being COVID positive can lead to a host of new COVID cases. This is the effect of airborne transmission.

AEROSOL-GENERATING PROCEDURES AND THE SCONE

Considering the damage caused by one aerosol dispersing nebulizer that was used in a hotel, it is more important now than ever for hospitals to have resources to prevent the spread of airborne disease like COVID-19. 

In hospitals, aerosol-generating procedures, like intubations, bronchoscopies, resuscitation, and tracheotomies, happen regularly. The healthcare workers conducting these procedures cannot socially distance themselves from the patients receiving care, and infectious aerosols from these procedures can linger in the air for hours.

Traditional personal protective equipment (PPE) is not enough to mitigate this spread, especially considering the ongoing shortage of adequate PPE facing many hospitals in the United States.

Hospitals are in need of medical devices like the SCONE, which uses negative pressure technology to clear aerosols and droplets generated by COVID patients and patients under investigation in under five minutes.

With multiple access ports for healthcare workers to use, the SCONE serves as an active barrier of protection for healthcare workers, allowing them to perform aerosol-generating procedures without increasing their risk for COVID-19.

Infectious aerosols and droplets can quickly spread COVID-19 throughout hospitals like it did in this Australian hotel. The SCONE helps prevent this by eliminating these aerosols before they get the chance to spread to healthcare workers, patients, and hospital staff.

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Brandon Lawrence, MD

Dr. Lawrence is an Emergency Medicine Physician born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, currently working in the west valley. From the start of the pandemic, he has been passionate about being on the forefront for care of his patients and protection for his fellow healthcare professionals. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, exercise and podcasting. He graduated from University of Arizona with a Bachelor's in Biochemistry and Michigan State University for his Medical Degree.

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