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Sensor ensures safe feeding tube insertion

NURSE researchers in Yorkshire have developed an innovative fail-safe mechanism for placing feeding tubes, which they believe will revolutionise patient safety.

NURSE researchers in Yorkshire have developed an innovative fail-safe mechanism for placing feeding tubes, which they believe will revolutionise patient safety.

The system ensures that nasogastric tubes are inserted in the stomach and not the lung, meaning that the risk of complications are reduced and fewer tests are needed to confirm the tubes' location.

Lead researcher Linda Shields, professor of nursing at Hull University, said: 'This revolutionary development, because of its low cost and ease of use, will have a ready market not only in the UK but also in every hospital in the world.

'It will also be used in community situations, for example where children with chronic conditions are cared for at home.'

Professor Shields said the device used an electrochemical process and nanotechnology.

As the nasogastric tube is inserted an electrochemical sensor at the tip takes a reading and sends the results along a nanowire to a credit-card-sized device at the other end of the tube.

If the reader device gives a green signal the tube is correctly placed in the stomach, Professor Shields explained. If it is red, the tube has been wrongly placed in the lung.

'We know it works, we know it can be done,' Professor Shields told NT.

Peter Callery, professor of children's nursing at Manchester University, added: 'Such a system has the potential to reduce distress experienced by patients as a result of repeated insertions as well as time savings for healthcare staff.'

Hull University is currently seeking a funding partnership to develop the device.

Professor Shields said she believed the end product should not be much more expensive than existing nasogastric feeding tubes, especially when the savings from unnecessary tests and reduction in distress to patients were taken into account.

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