It is not a cure for cancer or a new sort of laser. But a cleaner,
faster, more secure tube fastening could save the NHS millions of
pounds, and thousands of patients discomfort.
Dr Marc Spinoza dreamed it up based on a child’s toy, mortgaged his
house to finance it, brought in outside investors, and has won plaudits
from senior colleagues across several centres. What he has struggled
to do is sweep the country’s hospitals with the invention.
medicine is about tubes in and tubes out; tubes putting drugs, blood,
fluids or nutrition in, or taking liquids out. (Clinicians call the
tubes ‘lines’) In the NHS’s hundreds of hospitals, thousands of lines
in patients are being readjusted and redone each day, adding up to
millions of minutes and pounds in a year.
Currently, these lines
are secured with sutures, and sticking plaster on the patient’s skin.
If they need to be moved even slightly, or are not done right first
time, the whole thing has to be redone, which takes a few minutes and a
couple of pounds on sutures and tape. It’s a small inconvenience to
doctor and patient, and a modest cost, which is repeated every day in
hospitals round the country. Everyone just takes it for granted. It
could be eliminated.
Enter Dr Marc Spinoza’s bright idea: the
SULL. A simple braided cover tube goes over the line. It works like the
child’s toy, the ‘Chinese finger trap’ – it is easy to put the line in
and hard to pull it out. The SULL doesn’t go into the patient, but it
grips the line firmly and is attached by sutures. However, the SULL can
be released if pressed, making the line adjustable, it can be moved in
or out of the patient if needed without new sutures.
In one study
44/50 health professionals who had used it, wanted to use it again. For
example Professor Monty Mythen, an intensive care specialist at ICH,
said it was “the best new mousetrap in the box”.
The SULL has
being tried in hospitals such as Great Ormond Street, the Homerton,
Addenbrookes and Guys for uses as wide as surgical drains and parental
As lines puncture the body they are a hazard for
infection. Although no formal evaluation of infection control and SULL
has yet taken place, you can wash around the site with alcohol, and
there is less handling, and redoing of lines. Logically, it has to be
cleaner and simpler than what is already done. Each line infection is
thought to cost the NHS around £4-6000 in extra drugs and nursing time.
There’s a little drama to how the SULL came to be
Dr Marc Spinoza, who owns the patent, thought of it while fishing
He mortgaged his house to get capital, and has since brought on some individual investors
he wants now is for a big company to pick it up and stick it on every
prepacked line – so people have the choice whether to use it or not.
not glamorous, its not high tech. All it does is save time, money and
patient discomfort. So the question is – why has it not become
Dr Spinoza will spend as long as you have talking through his struggles to make it so.
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