A leading Liverpool doctor has teamed up with a specialist manufacturing company from Cheshire to create a new device which further shields healthcare staff from risks of Covid-19 infection.
Dr Neil Sahgal, a consultant anaesthetist at Aintree University Hospital, worked with ONFAB, a specialist containment manufacturing company in Middlewich, to create a pop-up Patient Airway Isolation Dome.
The first dome came off the ONFAB production line just eight days after Dr Sahgal met with the ONFAB team to discuss the idea.
The portable, see-through dome provides access for up to three healthcare workers, enabling them to insert breathing tubes into a patient’s throat while protecting themselves from the spray of infectious respiratory droplets which often occurs. This procedure, called intubation, is one of the highest risk situations for healthcare staff caring for patients who have Covid-19.
Dr Sahgal and ONFAB teams met to discuss the idea and within just eight days they had gone through development of prototypes, simulation testing at the hospital, feedback, updates and approval for clinical use, resulting in a commercial production.
The hospital received an initial batch of 30 domes, and successful use with patients led to ONFAB receiving queries from other hospitals. ONFAB have now begun wider commercial production of the devices.
Dr Sahgal said: “ONFAB were one of a group of companies offering support to the NHS in our region in developing safety devices in response to the pandemic, having seen a similar concept from Italy on social media. At the same time, I was trying to increase safety and reduce anxiety for the staff who make up the intubation team.
“This is a very simple idea which provides a physical barrier between a healthcare worker and their patient while they are intubating them, when our faces might be just 50 centimetres apart. Because it can be put up and down in a few seconds, staff can take it with the patient when they are moved to different areas of the hospital for different types of procedures.
“We know that Covid-19 impacts on both clinical and psychological safety. The dome provides protection on both levels, physically from the spray of droplets which can occur, while staff who have used it also report feeling much safer.
“It has been quite amazing. Normally, to develop a patient device, test it in simulations, and gain approval to start using it with patients and move it to commercial production would take months if not years. Working together with ONFAB, we achieved that in just eight days.
“I think that shows just how much focus there is to tackle the risks of Covid-19 to healthcare workers, from both the NHS and our commercial partners.
“We have clinical validation from the dome’s use with patients, and we will now be working with our colleagues at the School of Engineering at the University of Liverpool for full scientific validation. However, we wanted to make sure that healthcare workers have the option of using the dome immediately, as it further reduces risks which they could face. To achieve this in just a couple of weeks shows how we can act much more quickly than normal to take a great idea into a product which could reduce the risk of infection to healthcare workers.”
Mike Brown, director of ONFAB, commented: “As soon as we were made aware of the Trust’s requirements our team got to work on developing a solution that would increase the safety of healthcare workers while they are undertaking vital yet complex procedures for patients suffering with Covid-19.
“Through collaboration with Dr Sahgal, we were able to design and build our isolation dome and get it approved for use in hospital in just over a week. That speed is testament to both Dr Sahgal’s expert guidance and our team’s ability to design a product that matched his vision. We’re honoured to have played our part in supporting the NHS in these most pressing of circumstances and will continue to offer our expertise in the containment of pharmaceutical and medical processes wherever they are needed.”
The video below shows a simulation training session at Aintree University Hospital by theatre staff, testing a prototype of the Patient Airway Isolation Dome.