'Safe Place' helps keep premature babies alive

NORTH East doctors have devised a pioneering lifesaving device for premature babies.

Dr Alan Fenton from the RVI.

NORTH East doctors have devised a pioneering lifesaving device for premature babies.

The appliance, Safe Place, helps doctors position neonatal intravenous catheters in premature babies using Electrocardiogram recordings (ECG).

Developed by the Regional Medical Physics Department and Special Care Baby Unit at Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the new neonatal device aims to increase the accuracy and reliability of positioning tips of intravenous feeding tubes to give babies medication and food.

It is the first time this has been done and it is hoped the instrument will greatly reduce the risk and harm to the baby.

Alan Fenton, Consultant Neonatologist at the Special Care Baby Unit at Newcastles Royal Victoria Infirmary, said: Inserting very fine intravenous tubes for giving drugs and food is a routine part of looking after very tiny babies often weighing less than 1kg.

It is crucial that the end of the tube sits in a large vein but is away from the heart to avoid potentially fatal complications. Presently this is done using a series of rules of measurements followed by an X-ray, but as you can imagine such small tubes are often hard to visualise on X-ray. However, by using a high quality ECG reading obtained through the tube using Safe Place we are able to place the end of the tube more accurately and in time may reduce the need for X-ray in these vulnerable patients.

NHS Innovations North, based in Sunderland, has been involved in the development of the device and has helped Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust licence Safe Place to company Vygon UK and has assisted in the identification of suitable manufacturing partners in the region.

Mark Smith, Business Development Manager at Vygon UK, said: As providers of healthcare and medical products worldwide, this was an opportunity that we couldnt miss out on, particularly with the massive benefits this will have to the lives of such tiny babies.

Being involved in this unique device has enabled us to not only work with the clinical experts at Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust but also to capitalise on the wealth of manufacturing expertise in the North East.

We are grateful for the help and support received from NHS Innovations North in helping us to make this project a success.

Safe Place is being manufactured by Summit 1 Technology, an electronic manufacturing service based in Jarrow, and Classic Industries Europe, injection moulding specialists.

John Tweedlie, managing director at Summit 1 EMS Ltd said: We are really pleased that we can help in the manufacture of this device.

This is a great opportunity for us to enter a new market and we are extremely positive and passionate about making this device a success. We look forward to seeing the difference that this can make to babies lives.


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