MUSC Health clinicians’ ‘Guardian Needle’ aims to keep staff safe during surgery
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A new product designed by an MUSC clinician aimed at making operating rooms safer was used for the first time during a December surgery.
The Guardian Needle involves a small needle that only protrudes when it’s inserted into a patient and automatically returns to a protective cover when it’s removed.
Co-inventor and neurophysiologist Jessica Barley, Ph.D., assists in surgeries by placing as many as 40 needles into a patient’s body to help monitor a patient’s neurofunction.
Barley says these needles can be a concern for anyone in the operating room.
“There’s several opportunities where care team members in the OR can be stuck with a dirty needle, a needle that’s already be stuck into a patient,” Barley said. “That causes a slew of issues and anxieties.”
Barley says one particular surgery involving a young patient made her start to think of a better way to handle the needles.
The young child’s vital signs started to fall and Barley says she rushed to try and safely remove the needles before the care team was able to help the patient.
“I realized that there were 40 plus needles in this child that I had to get out before everyone could help her and time was of the essence,” Barley said. “That was the moment where I realized we really need to fix this.”
Barley and Chief of the Integrated Center of Clinical Excellence in Neurosciences Dr. Jonathan Edwards worked together to come up with the Guardian Needle.
ZIAN CEO Mark Semler took Barley and Edwards’ idea and developed the actual needle, working on prototypes and patents before working with a separate company on a licensing agreement.
“Now MUSC can buy it, get it back in Dr. Barley’s hands and she actively uses it on patients to make that difference with patients she envisioned so long ago,” Semler said.
The first surgery using the Guardian Needle at MUSC took place on Dec. 16.
“That was a pretty surreal moment because it had been a decade in the making,” Barley said. “Everyone was focused of course on taking care of the patient but also excited to have the new design in the OR to use.”
The Guardian Needle is also available for hospitals across the country and the world to use.
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