'MacGyver' Nurses Build Their Own Solutions

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media , October 8, 2013

MakerNurse is searching nationwide for nurses who are creating new devices and workarounds that fix healthcare problems and improve patient care.


Nurse-made solution to an infant's back problem.

My daughter was born with a rare neural tube defect that made her spinal cord protrude into a softball-sized lump on her lower back. She was healthy otherwise and surgery could wait a few months, but being discharged from the hospital presented a more immediate problem: How could a newborn with a large, delicate sac containing her spinal cord safely ride in a car seat when she wasn't even supposed to lie on her back?

Enter the innovative nurse who used a twisted hospital blanket and medical tape to fashion a donut that fit around the lump and cushioned her back.

"I bet that never got published," says Jose Gomez-Marquez, director of Little Devices Lab at MIT. "I bet nobody got an award for that little solution."

He's right. I don't even know that nurse's name. She rolled the blanket, taped it up, saw that it fit, and went on with her day. But her quick-thinking invention helped my daughter safely ride in her car seat for almost four months. And it didn't cost us a penny.

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2 comments on "'MacGyver' Nurses Build Their Own Solutions"

Sarah Mott (10/27/2013 at 9:47 PM)
Who knows the needs for patient care better than a nurse? As a nurse, I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most inventive, innovative people in healthcare -

Aquifer (10/9/2013 at 12:15 PM)
I love it! When i worked in a hospital, I came up with some ideas,one of which was how to retrofit hospital beds to lower them so patients could get in and out of them easier. But I was told "fuhgeddaboutit" because of potential liability issues. I have proposed partnerships between hospitals and universities such that all those wonderful inventors could be teamed with, say, engineering students "help a hospital for credit" so that these devices might be accepted and even fabricated locally. I got nowhere, but I think it is a great idea and perhaps you could think about this to take advantage of all the terrific ideas medical people come up with everyday ...




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