tech design industrial_design healthcare needles syringe infectious_disease public_health aids hepatitis

Smart Solution To Stop Needle Reuse Wins Design Impact Award

Healthcare providers reusing unsterilized syringes and needles cause more than 1.3 million infections around the world every year, according to the World Health Organization. Ignorance of the dangers and a lack of supplies means that the average syringe is reused four times in the developing world, says advocacy and education charity Safepoint

The problem, which spreads bloodborne pathogens like hepatitis and AIDS HIV (h/t and good catch to sexeducationforprudes), led healthcare designer David Swann and his team at the University of Huddersfield in the United Kingdom to come up with a simple and cheap visual aid. 

They created a syringe coated with a color-changing dye that turns red when exposed to carbon dioxide. The so-called A Behavior-Changing (ABC) syringe is stored in a nitrogen-filled pack and starts changing color only when the pack is punctured or the syringe is removed. Read more below and see the video.

Its creators say ABC syringe costs just 1 cent to produce, making it a solution that could be employed around the world. They hope the device will empower literate and illiterate patients to take control of their healthcare by saying no to injections given through red-colored syringes.

For their work that could change patient and healthcare provider behavior by triggering people’s innate sensitivity to risk through a persuasive color change, the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design awarded Swann’s team the 2013-2014 World Design Impact Prize on Feb. 28.

They estimate that the device could prevent 700,000 unsafe injections, save 6.5 million life years and $130 million in medical costs in India alone by its fifth year of deployment.

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