HME device could prevent fatal errors in intensive care

Medical device company, Medovate, has secured the exclusive rights to develop and market an innovative safety Heat and Moisture Exchanger (HME), a life-saving breathing apparatus designed to prevent critical airway obstruction, a medical ‘never event’.

Like other standard HMEs, Medovate’s safety HME will be used in intensive care and operating theatres to filter the air in patients’ breathing apparatus. Medovate’s HME has an integrated safety warning system, which alerts staff to when an HME is inadvertently attached to a heated humidified system, which could cause airway obstruction and pose a severe risk to the patient.

HMEs are designed to replicate the functions of the body's upper airway in an artificial breathing circuit, by conserving expired heat and moisture and returning these to the patient during inhalation. When patients are transferred from operating theatres to intensive care, their breathing circuits are often changed to heated humidified breathing systems. In the course of this transition, it is vital that HMEs are removed before connecting the patient to the humidified system. Failure to do so can result in the HME filter getting blocked, thereby also, over time, blocking the patient’s airway. Medovate’s safety HME uses proprietary technology to alert healthcare staff if a humidified circuit is still connected to it, thereby prompting them to remove the HME, and potentially saving the patient’s life.

Stuart Thomson, managing director, Medovate, commented: “On busy intensive care wards, there is a very real danger HMEs can become blocked if accidentally connected to the wrong airway circuit. In many cases, the error is not recognised for several hours. This in itself can cause respiratory distress; but if the situation continues for a prolonged period, it can lead to drastic complications.

“Ultimately, the aim of Medovate’s HME is to deploy enhanced engineered technology to prevent the instances of these problems entirely. With HMEs used on approximately five million patients in the UK each year, and up to 100 million used in the US and Europe annually, Medovate’s HME has the potential to dramatically improve patient safety.”

Medovate’s HME has already successfully undergone early stage testing. As part of the next phase in the product’s development, Medovate will conduct a simulation study in a real intensive care setting in May 2019, with full results due later this year. Medovate’s HME is due to be marketed to NHS teams as well as to health practitioners abroad, particularly in the US.

 

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