Nurses gather a wealth of experience in their daily rounds in the hospital wards. They see what works well, and experience the frustration when things don’t always function as they should. And in this profession, there is very little margin for error.

IV Safe T developers Melinda Watman (left) and Maggie McLaughlin have spent about $5,000 to make a prototype.

IV Safe T developers Melinda Watman (left) and Maggie McLaughlin have spent about $5,000 to make a prototype.

Last year, at Tufts Medical Center, Maggie McLaughlin’s path from nurse to entrepreneur began unknowingly when an IV tube unhooked from an infant in the neonatal intensive care unit, causing the child to begin bleeding unexpectedly. This incident left her wondering about what could be done to prevent this from happening in future.

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A specialist in IV procedures, McLaughlin was approached and asked to study ways of preventing such an incident from happening again. In her research, she realized that there was simply no universally accepted tool which would safely lock the line onto an infant’s tiny body.

The “Lang lock” (above) connects tubing to an IV catheter with a single twist.

Since then, McLaughlin has been working on developing an IV connection that is a more practical fit – one which lies flatter against the infant’s skin and holds more securely to the needle than those currently being used. She has teamed up with a former nurse, Melinda J. Watman whom she met at a North-eastern University event, and together they have set up a company called IV Safe T which aims to make and market the device.
The “Lang lock” (above) connects tubing to an IV catheter with a single twist.
McLaughlin is among several nurses — with the help of programs from nursing schools and their own hospitals — who are using their everyday bedside experience to develop new products and innovations and in so doing make improvements in the medical industry.
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.
‘It left me wondering. There’s got to be something we can do. There’s got to be a better way.’
Maggie McLaughlin, who helped create a device to lock an and IV line onto an infant’s body

McLaughlin still puts her nursing first. 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.
Watman, who has an MBA, and McLaughlin have spent about $5,000 of their own money to make a prototype. NU has been helping them to protect their intellectual property study the market at the same time. The pair is 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 by finding someone to bring the product to market by selling any patents they receive.
They believe the product could also benefit adults because they’re 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.”

Rebecca Love, director of the newly founded Nurse Innovation and Entrepreneurship program at NU, said research has shown that nurses spend a significant portion of each shift resorting to ‘makeshift” plans when processes or equipment are not functioning as they should. The problem with this is that it takes away from the time that nurses could be devoting to actual patient care.

On a positive note, nurses are demonstrating creativity this can be channeled into developing new tools and procedures to improve the general delivery of medicine.
The NU program connects nurses to resources and guidance to help them to execute their ideas. The exciting program 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 offers a financial incentive by providing nurses and other patient care workers with grants for ideas which could improve the way the facility functions. One such 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 the risk of falling. He came up with the idea after a patient took a bad fall at the hospital, slowing his recovery. Although with an invention like this, the patient will still require monitoring, it will not be time-intensive as leaving the rest of the patients while they escort a patient into the bathroom.
Patients understandably want privacy while they use the toilet, even when they are so weak that they are at risk of falling. The goal of the product is to provide enough stability that nurses can watch from outside the bathroom.
(pic) of Jared Jordan bathroom harness for patients.

Jordan said he is still working out what his business relationship with MGH will be if the product comes to fruition. His motivation is not primarily financial – his main goal is not so much to make money, but to help solve the problem of patients falling in hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutional settings.
Jordan admits that he is first and foremost a nurse; he cannot imagine not being a nurse but he really hopes his ‘harness’ will happen because of the positive impact it will have on the lives of patients and nurses alike.
These programs aim to put nurses on a par with other professions, including doctors, in terms of innovation in medicine.
Tim Raderstorf, chief innovation officer at The Ohio State University College of Nursing says: “Nursing historically has not been at the top of the hierarchy.”

The Ohio State University College of Nursing has a studio where students, faculty members, and staff can test out ideas. Although nurses make up the largest profession in health care, they often tend to have the least say in decision making.
This can be a major factor in determining whether nurses remain 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.

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