Cardiff Prof Judith Hall invents jabs safety system
A Cardiff University professor has invented a device to stop potentially fatal injections of drugs or even air into the wrong part of the body.
So-called wrong-route injections have led to a number of deaths and revealed design faults in drug packaging.
Anaesthetist Prof Judith Hall said her system of colour-coded connectors aims to "solve the whole problem".
The south Wales firm which helped develop the system, said it would launch the device later this year.
Prof Hall, a former Welsh woman of the year, is head of anaesthetics, intensive care & pain medicine at Cardiff University School of Medicine.
She cited the case of 18-year-old leukaemia patient Wayne Jowett, who died in 2001 after a toxic cancer drug was wrongly injected into his spine rather than a vein, as an example of the tragedies that can happen due to wrong-route injections.
End Quote Prof Judith Hall Cardiff University School of Medine
There's no reason why a system wide approach can't completely get rid of the problem and save harm to our patients”
An independent report in to the teenager's death later highlighted design faults in syringes and drug packaging.
Prof Hall said: "It was a pure mistake. It was avoidable with this new system."
She has devised a series of colour-coded and shaped connectors that are designed to be used in only one area.
The system uses one shape of connector for intravenous injections and a different shape for nasogastric tubes, and yet another shape for injections in to the spine.
She said: "Currently all of those routes are inter-connectable via a common lock fitting.
"But it is impossible now [with this system] to put air, for instance, that should be going to a nasogastric tube, into an arterial or venous type."
The National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) has said that by April 2011 spinal injections must no longer use the common lock system.
She said: "What we've got is something much more than what the NPSA was asking for. We've got a system that will solve the whole problem.
"There's no reason why a system-wide approach can't completely get rid of the problem and save harm to our patients."
Prof Hall's idea has been developed over the past two years and was officially launched a life sciences conference in Cardiff on Tuesday.
Flexicare Medical, based in Mountain Ash, Rhondda Cynon Taf, said it had invested a "very healthy six figure sum" in taking Prof Hall's idea from concept to market.
Business development director Hash Poormand said: "At present it is estimated that in the UK alone, there are over one million spinal regional anaesthesia procedures and growing.
"Our production capacity currently stands at making five million spinal packs per annum which will also allow us to launch into European markets in the early part of this year.
"Other markets which have shown great interest include Russia and the Middle East region, with the US to follow towards the latter part of 2011."