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Teesside nurse develops idea for operating table handles


Karen Ainsworth has been praised for coming up with an idea to comfort patients, particularly those with dementia, during pacemaker procedures.

Ms Ainsworth, a sister in the cardiac catheter laboratories at James Cook University Hospital, noticed that some patients were daunted by the medical equipment during procedures and that there was nothing to hold onto when they were on the operating table.

As a result, she developed handles to hold, which have now been manufactured and are in use in the labs of the hospital, which is part of South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

“It could easily be used in fields such as vascular radiology or neuroradiology”

Karen Ainsworth

They were recently “highly commended” at the NHS Innovations Bright Ideas in Health Awards, winning £1,000 to help with further development and production costs.

Ms Ainsworth said the idea came from speaking to members of the dementia team who said patients could “feel insecure on the narrow, movable, table”. She then developed the hand grips idea with colleagues from medical physics.

“We worked out what would work for patients and practically around lab equipment,” she said. “The handles needed to be something that can slide under the mattress without damaging any x-ray equipment; the x-rays need to be able to see through them and they had to be easily manoeuvrable and easy to keep clean.

“The earliest idea for the prototype had the handles at a rigid 90 degrees, but on discussion we decided the handles would be more comfortable if they were angled so a ball and socket was introduced to help us achieve this,” she said.

“We found staff and patients liked that fact that the latest prototype could angle to suit individual patients needs so we kept this feature. We have had two sets made so far and the feedback from staff and patients has been amazing,” she added.

Ms Ainsworth initially drafted the idea to assist dementia patients for a sense of security while on the operating table, but subsequently discovered that all patients found it beneficial.

“Some say ‘I held onto it for you’, others said ‘I jiggled it to distract myself.’ One said ‘when I felt a little pain, I gripped it so tight it stopped me swearing at the doctor,” she said.

“Although initially I looked at as being used in cardiology, it could easily be used in fields such as vascular radiology or neuroradiology,” she added.


Readers' comments (3)

  • Well done Karen. Anything that helps patients in any small way has to be a good thing. Congratulations and keep up the good work.

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  • Excellent to hear about innovation being championed for one of our nurses. Good Job.

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  • What an excellent idea! I wonder if you could post a picture of the handles? I also work in a cardiac cath lab. Well done!

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