Abstract

The ability to adequately ventilate a patient is critical and sometimes a challenge in the emergency, intensive care, and anesthesiology settings. Commonly, initial ventilation is achieved through the use of a face mask in conjunction with a bag that is manually squeezed by the clinician to generate positive pressure and flow of air or oxygen through the patient's airway. Large or small erroneous openings in the breathing circuit can lead to leaks that compromise ventilation ability. Standard procedure in anesthesiology is to check the circuit apparatus and oxygen delivery system prior to every case. Because the face mask itself is not a piece of equipment that is associated with a source of leak, some common anesthesia machine designs are constructed such that the circuit is tested without the mask component. We present an example of a leak that resulted from complete failure of the face mask due to a tiny tear in its cuff by the patient's sharp teeth edges. This subsequently prevented formation of a seal between the face mask and the patient's face and rendered the device incapable of generating the positive pressure it is designed to deliver. This instance depicts the broader lesson that deviation from clinical routines can reveal unappreciated sources of vulnerability in device design.

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