The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) contracted with the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) to perform a comprehensive inventory of mechanical ventilators in every hospital in the country. A survey is being taken to gain an accurate account of the number of ventilators that would be available in the event of a nationwide pandemic.

The Office of Preparedness and Response requested this inventory information “as the nation braces for the nH1N1 virus that may affect record numbers of Americans,” according to an announcement from AARC. The announcement goes on to explain, “Initial experience shows that many individuals are placed on ventilators as a result of this flu.”

All information gained from the survey will be kept in confidence and will not be available through the Freedom of Information Act. The AARC clarifies that no relocation of ventilators will be performed as a result of this survey; the information is sought so that the government can acquire or assist in augmenting current ventilator capacity.

Information on filling out the surveys has been sent to the Manager of Respiratory Care at each hospital in the United States.

"We are urging all hospitals to immediately begin this survey," said Timothy Myers, AARC president. "We hope to have this data gathered by September 10. There is an urgency to the effort."