HAIL TO THE ENTREPRENEUR WHO SAVES LIVES
Would you share a needle with someone? Hardly. So, who would intentionally put themselves in a position where they might accidentally share one . . . and risk contracting a deadly disease?
Everyday, millions of healthcare workers do just that. They risk getting an accidental needlestick injury that could be fatal. Over the years, tens of thousands of healthcare workers have contracted HIV and other bloodborne diseases from accidental needlesticks. It's a huge problem.
This fact so astounded engineer Jack Dillard that it injected into his inventive mind a life-saving idea. Peering into a bucket of exposed used needles in his allergist's office one day, Dillard asked "Why in heaven's name aren't those needles covered automatically with a plastic sheath when not in use following an injection or, more importantly, if the syringe were dropped or the user otherwise lost control of the device?" Could it be as simple as applying a specially designed spring that would automatically do that?
Dillard, a physicist and project manager for Hughes Electronics, a Fortune 50 company developing infrared imaging devices for military and scientific purposes, started to think about the problem. First, he dug into the extent of the needlestick problem and what he found out was shocking.
Although grossly underreported, Dillard was able to verify that nearly a million accidental needlestick injuries occurred each year in the U.S. alone. He also found that these sometimes fatal accidents add over $4 billion to the cost of healthcare in the U.S. After such accidents, victims are required to undergo a series of tests for bloodborne micro-organisms that can kill or seriously sicken the victim. These tests average about $3,000 per reported needlestick!
Dillard thought it was the ultimate irony that syringes, which are supposed to cure people, can be instruments of death for people who use them. At risk are nurses, doctors, phlebotomists and paramedics, not to mention other healthcare maintenance personnel and trash handlers.
Another dilemma for healthcare workers occurs at the point when needles or syringes are disposed of because it's illegal to recap a needle once it has been used. So, it is the responsibility of the medics to dispose of the needles safely, which doesn't always happen. Despite their best efforts, an estimated one million accidental needlestick injuries still occur each year during the process of disposing of syringes, or "sharps" devices, as they are called.
Tens of thousands of cases of Hepatitis B result from needlestick injuries and about 16,000 cases involve needles that have been HIV contaminated. Sadly, the people dedicated to helping the sick can face a lifetime of physical and psychological fear, risk and occasionally suffering, and even death, from needlestick mishaps.
When Dillard found out that his allergist's head nurse was injured from an accidental needlestick just the day before, he dedicated himself to designing a new syringe that would accomplish for nurses and doctors what air bags do for drivers when they automatically inflate upon impact.
And that's when the idea sprung to mind. Why not a spring? A spring that could activate a covering sheath that would automatically deploy over the needle on a syringe if it were dropped or mishandled? After years of work and several generations of safety syringes later, Dillard created and successfully patented the first syringe with a spring action that would automatically activate a sheath that deploys to completely cover the needle in the event the user drops the device or otherwise loses control of the device during use and, of course, after use, thereby preventing needlestick accidents.
The Protectus Automatic Self-Sheathing Safety Syringe is now rising rapidly to become the gold standard of safety in syringes. Today, Dillard is COO of the publicly-traded Protectus Medical Devices, Inc. (PTMD.PK). His recently patent-approved safety design is the only one that is fully automatically self-sheathing, meeting all the requirements of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). The design protects the needle at all times. Unless there is intentional pressure holding the sheath back by the user, the needle cannot be exposed. This design should greatly reduce or largely eliminate the risk of accidental needlestick injuries. Dillard's patent protects the utility/design for 20 years.
Dillard's passion for preventing needlestick injuries has spread to other percutaneous devices which fall under the same patent protection. Additionally, new stand-alone patent applications have been filed on several other devices, including a Safety Dental Syringe and a Safety IV Catheter; a patent application on a Safety Phlebotomy Device is soon to be filed. The result is a line of safety devices that, for the first time, will fully protect all medical professionals that have to draw blood or inject their patients.
Dillard's invention provides not just a national, but a global, solution to syringe safety.
One doctor who can't wait to start using the Protectus Safety Syringe is Antony N. Pannozzo, a medical doctor specializing in all sports injuries who has given already nearly one million injections and has endured the pain and anguish of many accidental needlesticks himself. He and many other healthcare professionals can't wait to have the Protectus Safety Syringe in their hands. Dillard's vision and inventiveness will undoubtedly improve morale in hospitals, doctors' offices, and all other medical facilities