The most notable difference between multiplace chambers and any other kind of hyperbaric chamber is the fact that they were designed to treat several patients at the same time and allow patients to interact with one another. Typically, multiplace chambers are found in larger hospitals or clinics with an increased patient demand.
The second difference is that multiplace chambers are filled with regular air, as opposed to being filled with oxygen. While inside the chamber, patients breathe through oxygen masks or hoods and the exhaled oxygen is ventilated outside of the room. Breaks to inhale regular air are given about every 20 to 30 minutes.
The third difference is that multiplace chambers can be pressurized to a higher level than other types of chambers. These three things make multiplace chambers ideal for treating multiple victims of accidents at the same time, such as in the event of deep water diving accidents.
Centers with large multiplace chambers have been used to observe the psychological and physiological effects that changes in atmosphere have on groups of people. For example, flight teams or teams of mountain climbers or deep sea divers can have their actions and reactions observed in a significantly safer environment than atop a mountain or in mid-flight.
Multiplace chambers are also used as operating rooms for advanced surgeries, allowing the surgical team and the patient to exist within the chamber at the same time.
Most multiplace chambers are custom built for specific purposes and facilities. Some take the shape of a horizontal cylinder with several compartments in spherical shapes with interconnecting chambers, like a hamster maze. Some chambers have even been built to resemble an everyday room complete with furniture and running water. These particular chambers have been used to alleviate panic and anxiety in patients by making them completely unaware of the atmospheric differences.
In multiplace chambers the patients can also watch TV through portholes, but because the chamber is pressurized with regular air patients can also read and talk to other people in the chamber. Usually they can’t sleep much as the oxygen hood is taken on and off several times during the session.40
In order for hospitals and clinics to obtain reimbursement from Medicaid or other insurance providers, they must have a certified HBOT physician present any time a patient is inside a pressurized chamber. With multiplace chambers, the need for qualified personnel increases. The need increases if separate rooms of a multiplace chamber are set at different pressures, requiring a complete staff for each atmospheric setting.