Listed below are the most frequently asked questions about Open Source Medical Supplies. If you have a question that is not answered below, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Open Source Medical Supplies
What is Open Source Medical Supplies?
Launched in March 2020, Open Source Medical Supplies (OSMS) has brought together a global network of over 70,000 makers, fabricators, community organizers, and medical professionals working together to meet the unprecedented medical supply challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. We envision a world made of resilient communities, in which individuals and institutions are inspired and empowered to work together to create supplies that address local challenges and crises. You can read more about OSMS on our About page.
How can I help?
First, educate yourself and your community on what COVID-19 is, how to care for those who have it, and understand the supply chain problems at hand, before you start designing, building, or ideating anything. And don’t forget to share out the OSMS Home Care Guide and the OSMS PPE Use Guide to educate your friends, family, colleagues, and community.
Second, help us continue to grow our network. Join the Open Source COVID-19 Medical Supplies Facebook group and find out what makers are talking about. The goal of our Facebook group is to be a discussion forum, while the Open Source Medical Supplies website is our megaphone to the world.
Third, go out and find as many existing solutions as possible to the supply problems we’ve highlighted, and focus your design work on the gaps that haven’t been solved. Read the documentation in our Categories Library to find current needs the medical community is facing in each section. Browse our expansive Project Library and start making based on the need in your area and your capabilities. Find a Local Response group in your area and join up with them. Or you can donate to OSMS to help us continue the work we are already doing.
What should I make?
Before diving in, figure out what your community needs. That answer will differ from region to region, and even between facilities within the same region. You can use our Local Response Map to find a group in your area and partner with them – usually they will have contacts at hospitals, nursing homes, dentists offices, schools, and others and will know what their needs are. Once you find the need in your community, check out the OSMS Project Libraries to find a project to make.
Is my donation to OSMS tax deductible in the United States?
Yes! All donations to OSMS go through Resolve, which is a 501(c)(3) organization. When donating, please make sure to indicate your donation is for Open Source Medical Supplies – and thank you so much for supporting our cause!
About OSMS Local Response
What is OSMS Local Response?
The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted medical supply chains across the globe. In response, makers and manufacturers are fabricating PPE and supplies for medical and social service workers in need in their local communities. OSMS Local Response supports these efforts.
How can I find out about Local Response efforts near me?
We are thrilled to see the upswell in local organizing efforts to help fill the gaps in medical supply chain disruptions. Dozens of Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies (OSCMS) regional Facebook groups are cropping up, and are gathering volunteers to share information, best practices, local needs, supplies, and manufacturers. You can use our Local Response map to find a group near you. If you are running a group and don’t see it listed, please register!
How can I find people or places that need help in my area?
Visit our Local Response Map and make sure “Add Dataset: Requesters” is checked. You can then search for your local area and will see hospitals and other locations that have put in requests from FindTheMasks.com. If you have commercially manufactured PPE available, we recommend using a matching resource from the list below to find locations near you that are requesting PPE donations.
- Get Us PPE – makers- and manufacturers-to-hospitals
- Project N95 – medical equipment and supply exchange
- PPELink – research labs-to-hospitals donation
- PPENeeded – needs and makers/donors exchange
For other maker-built supplies, we recommend searching for organizers in your region before reaching out to hospitals directly. We need to ensure that hospitals are not overwhelmed with excessive phone calls about donations.
About Making Medical Supplies
Why (not) make ventilators?
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), in which breathing is impaired by fluid buildup in the lungs, is one of the most common and severe complications of COVID-19. Patients with ARDS frequently require mechanical ventilation to survive. Mechanical ventilation requires careful supervision by trained respiratory therapists in order to avoid complications, including permanent lung damage. Without sufficient medical professionals to use them, adding to the supply of ventilators will not improve the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
This does not mean that no one should be working to increase ventilator supply, but it does mean that your energies might be spent better elsewhere, such as familiarizing yourself with the CDC’s PPE Strategy, and addressing the PPE shortage for those who are treating patients or for essential workers whose jobs require them to work in close proximity to other people. If you do not have knowledge or experience of mechanical ventilation and are not working with someone who does, you may be better off focusing on other projects.
Why (not) 3D print/injection mold/vacuum form medical devices?
3D printing, injection molding, and vacuum forming can be efficient methods of mass-producing needed supplies to prevent shortages. In one example of successful use of 3D printing, respirator valves are already being 3D printed in response to the increased need for mechanical ventilation in Italian hospitals. However, medical devices pose unique problems that require additional precautions in 3D printing.
Medical devices are also subject to strict regulations that vary from country to country. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) exist to allow hospitals more flexibility in the devices they use. However when the EUA expires, any devices that do not meet the normal strict criteria will be discarded.
FDA UPDATE: FAQs on 3D Printing of Medical Devices and Accessories during COVID-19 [From 04/05/20; Current as of 08/17/20]
Are 3D printed parts sterile?
Due to the way in which they are manufactured, 3D printed materials are frequently more porous than typical medical device materials, allowing them to harbor microbes if they are not carefully sterilized. Medical sterilization techniques require heat, radiation, and chemical sterilization processes. Any 3D printed device made for use with patients must be able to withstand repeated exposure to these processes. Most common 3D printing materials will warp, melt, or lose tensile strength when exposed to medical sterilization; see previous link for a list of materials that can be sterilized.
There is some sterile 3D manufacturing but it is rare, mostly proprietary, and usually already located in a hospital or research lab. It is not usually conducive to mass-scale production. Prusa has shared their recommendations for independently lab-tested, methods for disinfecting their face shields.
Can I make something and bring it directly to a hospital to be used?
Usually, no. For some PPE items (cloth face masks, face shields, head covers, etc.) hospitals may be accepting donations, but this is not universal. We recommend checking with local organizations or finding a local group on the OSMS Map that may already. You can also register as a Maker with GetUsPPE, PPE Needed. or Project N95 and they will connect you with an organization in need in your area.
For other supplies, particularly for devices like ventilators, there is not yet a clear pathway for getting items from makers into hospitals. There are a number of safety concerns with medical devices that need to be addressed. Please do not show up at a hospital unannounced with donations.
When is the OSMS Project Library updated?
The OSMS Project Library is updated every other Friday with new projects, updates to existing projects, and updates to documentation. You will know a project has been recently updated by the presence of a banner across the top corner of the item in question.