DiversityNursing Blog

These Nurses Are Also Inventors

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Thu, Nov 30, 2017 @ 11:59 AM

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You see problems with the equipment, software, bedding, clothing, etc. you use in your job every day. If you have an idea to make something better, here are a few inspirational stories of Nurses who acted on their ideas to create a better solution to the problems they encountered.

hqdefault-1-380814-edited.jpgDecades ago, Bessie Blount Griffin was a a volunteer Nurse at a New Jersey hospital. According to marketplace.org, while Griffin was there, she noticed lots of veterans had lost the ability to use their limbs. She decided to create an invention that would allow paralyzed veterans to feed themselves using a tube they could bite on with their teeth.

Even though she had worked for so long and invested thousands of dollars of her own money into her invention, the VA wasn't interested in paying the $100,000. So instead, she donated it to the French government who used it in military hospitals nationwide.

Bessie was determined to prove "that as a black female, we can do more than nurse their babies and clean their toilets."

coolingvest.jpgJill Byrne is an operating room Nurse who created a garment that could help surgeons reduce heat stress. Heat shortened the tempers and focus of surgeons. So Jill fashioned a from scrap draping material common in hospitals. Outfitted with pockets for re-freezable ice packs placed around the body, the garment was designed to fit under a surgical gown. She created this piece in her living room.

Heat stress is an occupational hazard for surgeons. They must keep the thermostat in operating rooms above 68 degrees—a standard set by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services—and that's before factoring in warmth from lights, impervious layers of protective clothing and the intense physical demands of some surgeries, such as joint replacements.

As little as 30 minutes of overheating starts to tax internal organs and is associated with weight gain, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and a hindrance on cognitive performance, according to peer-reviewed research and stress studies by the Mayo Clinic.

According to medicalxpress.com,  the first surgeon who wore the cooling vest showed such a dramatic change in personality, Byrne said, he was singing show tunes and was calm, polite and clear of mind during the procedure.

In a product trial at several Cleveland Clinic facilities, 97 percent of the surgeons, technicians and nurses who tested the vest said they would wear it again; it was lauded for its low cost, light weight and how its disposability does not create an additional source of contamination or laundry.

Byrne secured a provisional patent and is working with a team from Cleveland Clinic Innovations to license the property to a third-party manufacturer, and the vest could be for sale within a year.

Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 2.16.22 PM-452025-edited.pngRegistered Nurse Georgann Carrubba created a product that could improve the quality of life for the more than 800,000 Americans who use ostomy pouches after surgeries. The Choice Cap System and Nurse Carrubba went before a panel of judges at the Rochester Venture Challenge and won the $25,000 grand prize.

The cap system is a double-flanged wafer that a patient could then connect to either a traditional pouch, a light-weight, air-tight and waterproof cap; or a smaller pouch stored in the cap.

Genesee Community College Director of Nursing Kathleen Palumbo said, “Put yourself in the place of these patients — having a bag on your abdomen that fills with stool, that sometimes smells. Even going to the grocery store, a restaurant, never mind swimming, playing golf, tennis or anything like that. Some of these people become virtual shut-ins, they become afraid, embarrassed.”

The Choice Cap is meant to add a more secure and less obtrusive option that will work and cost the same as the traditional systems. Carrubba said users can be more comfortable in public, in activities and in intimate situations.

“One of the biggest struggles patients had was changing their lifestyle to accommodate a pouch,” Carrubba said. “This is going to bring them back to doing the activities they’ve avoided or feared.”

ZI-2IGN-2015-SEP00-IDSI-4-1.jpgA Nurse named Sister Jean Ward invented neonatal phototherapy in the 1950's. She was in charge of the Premature Unit at Rochford General Hospital in Essex, England and realized that sunlight reduced jaundice in newborns and premature infants. This discovery led to phototherapy, which probably is the most common clinical treatment applied to newborn infants.

Anita Dorr, RN invented the first crash cart in 1968. According to workingnurse.com, while working in the emergency department she became concerned about how long it took the staff to round up all the equipment needed to treat a critically ill patient. With her staff, she compiled a list of items that would be needed in any type of emergency.

Anita and her husband John measured everything and built a red-painted wood prototype in their basement. innovation-technology-commercialization-for-nurses-35-638-180536-edited.jpgThe original cart had a laminate top and included wheels for quick movement to the bedside. Everyone called it the crisis cart.

Nurse Adda May Allen worked at Columbia Hospital in Washington, D.C. in the 1940s. Allen realized it was exhausting for babies to nurse on bottles so she created a disposable liner that moms and hospitals could throw away after just one use. While a baby sucked on a traditional bottle, a partial vacuum formed, inverting the nipple. A plastic liner, however, allowed the sides to close in as a baby drank her milk.

In 1985, Nurse Teri Barton-Salinas wanted to make IV lines different colors to reduce medical errors. Barton-Salinas got the idea when she was working as a labor delivery Nurse and had to use the lines in newborns.

According to dailyrepublic.com, it remained only an idea until 2003 when she and her sister, Gail Barton-Hay, got what they call ColorSafe IV Lines patented. Now, with the help of retired California Highway Patrol officer Royce Brooks, who runs Creative Safety Solutions, the two nurses hope to make hospitals and medical centers safer with their invention.

We hope you are inspired by these creative Nurses and the improvements they contributed to the medical community. Do you have an idea to make things better for you and your patients? If so, how about acting on it? We’d love to hear about it!

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Topics: nurse inventor, nurse inventions, nurse innovator, medical inventions

Nurses Team Together To Invent Device For Infants

Posted by Andy Rosen

Thu, Oct 26, 2017 @ 12:11 PM

24nurses01.jpgEvery day we see aspects of our job that can be done better. Improvements can be made to the way we do many things and the materials we use. We’re often so busy, we think to ourselves there must be a better way to do our charting, administer meds, etc, but we’re too busy to actually do anything about it so we go with the same old routine.
 
Here's a story about a Nurse seeing a need for improvement, having a creative idea, and seeing her idea become a much needed device to improve healthcare for babies.

This article written by By from the Boston Globe- Maggie McLaughlin’s path from nurse to entrepreneur started last year when an IV tube became unhooked from an infant in the neonatal intensive care unit at Tufts Medical Center, where she works, causing the child to begin bleeding unexpectedly.

A specialist in IV procedures, McLaughlin was asked to study ways of preventing such an incident from happening again, and she learned there is no universally accepted tool to safely lock the line onto an infant’s tiny body.

“It left me wondering,” she said. “There’s got to be something we can do. There’s got to be a better way.”

Since then McLaughlin has been working to develop an IV connection that lies flatter on an infant’s skin and holds more securely to the needle than the alternatives on the market today. She has teamed up with a former nurse she met at a Northeastern University event to form a company called IV Safe T to make and market the device.

24nurses05.jpgMcLaughlin is among a number of nurses — with the help of programs from nursing schools and their own hospitals — who are using their bedside experience to develop new products and innovations in the medical industry.

Rebecca Love, director of the year-old Nurse Innovation and Entrepreneurship program at NU, said research has shown that nurses spend a significant portion of each shift using workarounds and making impromptu fixes to ineffective processes or equipment. One simple example is using medical tape to secure a device that doesn’t sit right on a patient’s body.

Such adaptations take up time that could otherwise be devoted to patient care, but they also demonstrate creativity that can be channeled into developing new tools and procedures to improve the delivery of medicine.

The NU program, which connects nurses to resources and guidance to help them carry out their ideas, said it has attracted 1,600 people to events it has held, and it has connected at least 20 nurses to business mentors. It is also beginning a certificate program this winter.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts General Hospital provides grants to nurses and other patient care workers who have ideas to improve the way the facility operates. One nurse at MGH, Jared Jordan, is using the grant program to develop a harness that will allow patients to use the bathroom on their own without risk of falling. He came up with the idea after a patient took a bad spill at the hospital, slowing his recovery.

Patients understandably want privacy while they use the toilet, even when they are so weak they are at risk of falling. The goal of the product is to provide enough stability that nurses can stand watch from outside the bathroom.

Jordan said he is still working out what his business relationship with MGH will be if the product comes to fruition. His main goal is not so much to make money, but to help solve the big problem of falls in hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutional settings.

“I love being a bedside nurse, and I couldn’t imagine not doing that,” Jordan said. “I want this product to take off because I just think it’s going to be so impactful.”

These programs strive to put nurses on equal footing with other professions, including doctors, who are commonly seen as the most likely innovators in medicine. “Nursing historically has not been at the top of the hierarchy,” said Tim Raderstorf, chief innovation officer at The Ohio State University College of Nursing, which has a studio where students, faculty, and staff can test out ideas. “Although we are the largest profession in health care, we tend to have the least influence when it comes to making decisions.” That can be a major factor in determining whether nurses stay in their jobs. Research by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has found that nurses who have autonomy and feel involved in decision-making say they are more likely to stay in their jobs.

Some who follow innovation in health care say nurses represent a relatively untapped reservoir of expertise about improving patient care.

“Doctors aren’t really trained to do the business of medicine. They’re trained to be doctors, but they run practices, and they start businesses,” said Paulina Hill, principal at the venture firm Polaris Partners. “It’s the same with nurses. There’s nothing really that limits them from innovating.”

McLaughlin calls her device “Lang lock,” after her maiden name. The rounded device connects tubing to an IV catheter with a single twist, and it has one flat side to make the needle approach the skin at a lower angle so it sits more securely.

She has teamed up with Melinda J. Watman, a former nurse who later got an MBA and went into business, to start their own company. She works on the business in her spare time from the kitchen table at her Chelmsford home, and still clocks three, 10-hour shifts a week at the Tufts Floating Hospital for Children in Boston.

So far, McLaughlin and Watman have spent about $5,000 of their own money to make a prototype. NU has been helping them to protect their intellectual property and study the market. The pair are exploring how to pay for the more daunting costs of getting regulatory approval, which could exceed $10,000. That might happen through a licensing agreement, or finding someone to bring the product to market by selling any patents they receive.

They believe the product could also benefit adults, because they’ve designed to be easier to connect and to reduce the risk of irritation and skin tearing even on larger bodies.

McLaughlin, who describes herself as a “worker bee,” said the rapid immersion in the business of medical devices has been “eye opening.”

“Going in, doing my job well, making sure that every patient I contact has what they need — that’s been my specialty,” she said. “So when it comes to the whole business part, it’s a learning curve that I’ve been taking baby steps and baby strides to.”

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Topics: infant, medical device, nurse inventor

IVs, Crash Carts & More: A Salute to Nurse Inventors and Innovators

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, May 24, 2013 @ 01:34 PM

By Christina Orlovsky Page 

If necessity is the mother of invention and Florence Nightingale is the mother of modern nursing, it’s only fitting that during National Nurses Week--culminating in Nightingale’s birthday, May 12--we take the time to recognize nurses’ inventions and the talented professionals who used their creative energy to improve patient care. Ever hear of the crash cart, for instance? It is just one of the many innovations that nurses have helped devise. 

So here is a salute to just a few nurse inventors, from past and present, who realized a need and turned their ideas into reality.

A Nurse-Turned-Physical Therapist’s Feeding Apparatus for Amputees 

For Bessie Blount, nursing was just one step on her long career path, but it was a step that led to several technological advances in assistive devices for amputees. Working with veterans disabled in World War II, Blount, who trained in nursing and then physical therapy, created an electronic device in the early 1950s that allowed amputees to eat on their own. When Blount didn’t receive support for her invention from the American Veteran’s Association, she donated the rights to the French government, and the rights to another invention--a disposable hospital basin--to Belgium. Blount, who became a pioneer among African American women in the mid-century, ended her career path in forensic science, which she practiced until her death in 2009. 

An ER Nurse Leader’s Profession-Changing Invention and Association  

In the 1960s, emergency department nurse Anita Dorr, RN, recognized the length of time it took to gather the supplies the unit needed in a critical situation. Together with her staff, who created a list of necessities, and her husband, who built a wood prototype, Dorr envisioned a wheeled “crisis cart” in 1968 that has since evolved into the crash cart of today. Dorr’s dedication to emergency nursing eventually led to the establishment of the Emergency Room Nurses Organization in 1970--a group that would later become the Emergency Nurses Association, today a 40,000-member-strong organization devoted to strengthening and supporting the professional specialty. 

A Mother-Daughter Duo’s IV Catheter Shield 

In the early 1990s, mother-daughter duo Betty M. Rozier, an entrepreneur, and Lisa M. Vallino, RN, BSN, a pediatric emergency nurse, teamed up to establish I.V. House, Inc., an intravenous therapy organization based in Chesterfield, Mo. With products designed out of a need Vallino had seen in her clinical years for site protectors that eased patient anxiety and reduced reinsertions, the original I.V. House device was patented in 1993; today, millions of I.V. House site protectors have been provided to hospitals worldwide. 

A Sister Act for IV Safety  

Inventive IV lines took a colorful turn for nurse sisters Terri Barton-Salinas, RN, and Gail Barton-Hay, RN, whose half-century-plus of combined nursing experience provided helped them see the need for increased patient safety surrounding IV lines. Acknowledging the hazards of using clear, indistinguishable lines, the pair assisted with the product development of ColorSafe IV Lines, lines available in red, green, orange, blue and purple, with corresponding colored labels for the IV bags.  

A College’s Nursing-Engineering EHR Collaboration 

Perhaps no place is better for innovation than a university campus, which affords bright minds the opportunity to brainstorm, collaborate and experiment with creativity. One such innovative collaboration came out of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where the colleges of nursing and engineering partnered to create the DocuCare EHR, which integrates electronic health records into a simulated learning tool for students, changing the way nursing students learn and preparing them for the increasingly EHR-heavy hospital workforce. Developed by Tami Wyatt, PhD, RN, associate professor of nursing, and Xueping Li, PhD, associate professor of industrial and information engineering--co-directors of the university’s Health Information Technology and Simulation Laboratory--the product was purchased by health care publishing giant Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (LWW) in 2010 and is being utilized in nursing school curricula across the country.

© 2013. AMN Healthcare, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

Source: Nursezone.com

Topics: nurse, technology, nurse inventor, nurse innovator, modern nursing

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