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BMC anesthesiologists receive award from Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation

(Boston) For the second consecutive year, anesthesiologists from Boston Medical Center (BMC) and Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have received the prestigious Ellison C. Pierce Award for the Best Scientific Exhibit in Patient Safety from the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF). The award, which was presented during the 2011 American Society of Anesthesiologists annual meeting in Chicago, recognizes the efforts by physicians to increase patient safety through innovation.

Chris Connor, MD, PhD, assistant professor of anesthesiology and biomedical engineering, and Eddy Feliz, MD, assistant professor of anesthesiology, developed the exhibit, which focused on preventing aspiration. Titled, "A Worked Example of a Device to Guide the Accurate Application of Cricoid Pressure," Connor and Feliz presented their prototype of a device that accurately measures the cricoid pressure applied during the Sellick Maneuver in order to prevent aspiration.

Aspiration occurs when stomach contents are regurgitated and enter the lungs, causing a chemical inflammatory reaction that can be lethal. Developed in the 1960s, the Sellick Maneuver requires a caregiver to press on the patient's neck cartilage in order to prevent any regurgitated stomach contents from entering the trachea. The procedure calls for 30 Newtons of pressure to be applied, but there was never a way to accurately measure the pressure.

Connor and Feliz have patented the prototype of the device, which is a box measuring 3" long, 2" wide and 1.5" deep. Disposable sensors run from the device and are placed on the patient's neck. When 30 Newtons of force are applied to the neck, a green indicator light flashes on the device, signaling the correct amount of pressure is being applied symmetrically.

"This device meets an important need in operating rooms by accurately guiding the pressure necessary to prevent aspiration," said Connor, who also is the director of research for the department of anesthesiology.

When the final design of this device is completed, it would be inexpensive to produce in bulk and could be easily deployed to health care facilities and operating rooms worldwide.

"This design demonstrates how innovations in medicine can be fully developed, from the idea's inception to the creation of a prototype, and we look forward to seeing this device produced commercially in order to prevent patients from experiencing aspiration," said Feliz, who is the director of resident education for the department of anesthesiology.


Contact: Jenny Eriksen Leary
Boston University Medical Center

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