Smart syringe turns red to tell you it's been used
|Author: Holden Frith|
Date: Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013
(CNN) -- Of the four to five billion injections given each year in India, at least 2.5 billion are unsafe, according to one study. In some cases, that means they are administered using unsterilized second-hand syringes that could be contaminated with a blood-borne disease such as hepatitis or HIV.
A simple change to the way syringes are made could dramatically reduce those figures and save thousand of lives each year, according to David Swann of Huddersfield University, in England. His design for a new kind of syringe that changes color after it has been used was nominated for an INDEX: Award.
"1.3 million people (globally) a year die from unsafe injection practices," Swann says, quoting WHO figures. "It accounts for over 30% of hepatitis A and B cases and 5% of HIV cases."
He explained that in India it is common for scavengers to hunt through landfill sites looking for old syringes that they can clean up and sell to clinics.
"When you compare a sterile syringe just out of its packaging with a syringe that's been washed, how do you determine the difference?" he said. "We conceived an intelligent ink that, if exposed to air by taking it out of the package or if the package is breached that would activate it and turn it red."
The ABC Syringe is impregnated with an ink that's sensitive to carbon dioxide and then sealed in a protective atmosphere so that it remains transparent until it is ready for use. After the seal is broken, the shell of the syringe starts to turn a dark red, alerting both doctors to the risk that the syringe may already have been used.
Swann's intention is that the introduction of the ABC syringe should be accompanied by a public information campaign so that patients would also associate a red syringe with danger and would be able to insist on sterile equipment.
"We had to be really quite clever in looking at technologies that cost next to nothing, and modified-air packaging is one of those technologies," Swann said. "It only adds 1% to the retail price, so on a two-and-a-half pence (four cents) syringe it becomes quite an interesting proposition."
According to Swann's calculations, if the ABC syringe is used for 5% of injections administered in India, after five years it will have prevented more than 700,000 infections and saved $130 million in medical costs.
Denis Maire, who works for the World Health Organization's health systems and innovation taskforce, said the ABC Syringe could help to make injections safer.
"Anything that can contribute to decrease the reuse of syringes is worth considering and cost is certainly a major factor," he said. "The great advantage of this concept is that not only health care workers but also patients can have a visual appreciation on the safety status of the device. In my view this could be a good deterrent for practitioners to reuse."
However, he noted that it would be possible for unscrupulous doctors to override the visual warning if their patients did not know the meaning of the color change. He also said that the one-minute delay before the syringe turned red may not be long enough.
"How would you distinguish good and bad syringes if the injections are not practised inside this lap of time?" he said. "It could create confusion and render the concept ineffective."
Ravi Naidoo, a member of the INDEX Award jury and the managing director of Design Indaba, an agency that aims to put creative ideas into practice, said that working with the international medical community would help to turn the prototype into a viable product.
"This innovation speaks to the endless possibilities of design, creativity and innovation in addressing real-world issues," he said. "In addition to being cost-effective, which will ensure the accessibility of the solution, it also allows patients to take charge of a critical issue — great example of empowerment through smart design."
- All Categories
- Academic Outreach
- Continuing & Professional Development
- Distance Learning
- Summer Sessions
- Winter Term
- Career & Workforce Development
- Lifelong Learning
- Society for Lifelong Learning
- WKU On Demand
- Study Away
- Faculty-Led Study Abroad
- Center for Faculty Development
- Cohort Programs
- Dual Credit
- Conferencing & Catering
- All Categories
- March 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS October 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS March 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2012 E-Newsletter
- April 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS November 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS March 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2013 E-Newsletter
- JUNE 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS May/June 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2013 E-Newsletter
- Archived CHHS News
- CHHS October 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2015 E-Newsletter
- December 2015 ICYMI
- January 2016 ICYMI
- MAY 2016 ICYMI
- February 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS July 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2011 E-Newsletter
Saturday Aug 28th and Sunday Aug 29th
Note: documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view,
download Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Note: documents in Excel format (XLS) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Word format (DOC) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Powerpoint format (PPT) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Quicktime Movie format [MOV] require Apple Quicktime,