Intravenous (IV) therapy is the most common invasive therapy in modern medicine, with around 3.8 billion tubes used to perform the procedure each year.
The therapy helps those who can’t get core nutrients from their food, assisting patients for conditions such as cancer, Crohn’s and bowel disease.
According to research around 10 per cent of these tubes are forcefully removed, which can lead to injury or infection.
This begins a time consuming process for hospital nurses where they are forced to spend around 30 minutes cleaning and reinserting the tubes.
One company is helping solve this problem with their innovative product that makes this reattachment process seamless.
Tada Medical’s ReLink is a breakaway connector that can easily be reattached, featuring self-sealable ports that stop the loss of any fluids during dislodgement.
The product has already received patent approval in Europe, as well as countries such as the US, New Zealand and South Africa.
The innovative method granted the seal of excellence from the EU Commission in 2019, as well as receiving £1.5 million in funding from the EIC Accelerator Programme last year.
Speaking to Health Tech World, Tada Medical’s co-founder Katarina Hedbeck explained how the idea for ReLink came about.
“When something breaks like this in IV therapy the standard solution is to make it stronger,” she said. “That’s what all the other competitors have done, they have secured the device harder to the patient.
“We have done it the other way around, making it weaker.
“We have a break away connector that instead of the patient getting harmed, ReLink splits into two parts, stopping blood and medicine from spilling which means it can easily be reconnected again.”
One of the biggest reasons for introducing new healthcare technologies is to make treating patients more efficient and give clinicians more time.
ReLink does exactly that.
“If everybody would use ReLink, they would save about 90 per cent of the time used to restart the IV line,” Katarina said.
“There is a global lack of nurses, so this reduces the working time and improves the working environment, then add in that the patient doesn’t get harmed.”
Reducing this damage to the patient was another key reason as to why technology like this needed to be introduced.
Any dislodgement during IV therapy can provide significant health risks, such as damage to the veins and an increased chance of infection.
A hemorrhage or an air embolism are also more serious potential consequences of this which will require further treatment and can be fatal in some cases.
Furthermore ReLink has a lot of benefits for patients that may struggle to adjust to IV therapy, such as those with dementia or children.
Dr. Rebecca Bejhed, another co-founder of Tada, went into more detail about this: “There are a lot of patients to keep safe and there are areas where this is more common.
“There are kids and the elderly where confusion and delirium, including dementia, can all be triggers for the lines to be pulled out.
“This fills the gap in there because we allow kids to pull the lines out and we remove all the consequences. There’s no spill, there’s no exposure to the nursing community and you don’t lose your access device.
“It’s plug and play, you clean it then you put it back in and you hope that the kid behaves for the next round.”
It is not just patients that can be harmed during dislodgement. As Rebecca mentioned, nurses can be at risk of exposure to harmful substances when IV lines are removed.
She drew upon the example of a number of doctors developing cancer due to any mess created from treating a patient with chemotherapy.
“That’s another area that you hardly hear about, all the healthcare professionals getting cancer from treating patients with cancer, because chemotherapy is such a hazardous drug.
“There’s always a bit of vapour release and then of course if you have a dislodgement incidence, you’re going to have a pool of chemo on the floor.
“You can have a lot of devices on your line to protect everybody but then if you have an incident like this it doesn’t matter.”
The same benefits for nursing staff can be applied when it comes to treating patients with COVID-19.
Because of its infectious nature, clinicians need to limit the amount of time spent next to those who have the disease, as Katarina explains.
“ReLink not only good for patients, if a nurse can reduce the time next to an infectious patient from 30 minutes to three, everybody wins.”
Rebecca followed on from this, saying how crucial this time that is saved could be when it comes to dealing with the huge backlog of treatment caused by the pandemic.
“We are in the third wave now, so the intensive care units are all but full. All the surgeries that are now being pushed back means there is a healthcare debt being built up.
“So how do we deal with that because there’s just not enough healthcare professionals, there’s not enough hospital beds.
“What ReLink can offer is that you don’t have to spend as much time with the patient, that is a lot of nursing time that could be saved.
“We are going to need this time because we’re going to have to treat people for a long time to catch up with everything we’re now missing because of the COVID patients.”
There has already been interest in ReLink from doctors in the UK, with the team from Tada Medical looking to grow its reach by presenting at the sixth World Congress on Vascular Access this week.
The product has been specifically designed so it can be easily mass produced, which will be essential in its journey as both Rebecca and Katarina say their vision is to see ReLink deployed in hospitals across the world.