Healthcare professionals use medical devices in a variety of settings and situations from urgent to routine. In an emergency, any sort of confusion, hindrance, or hesitation concerning the most minor detail or part of a device can mean a matter of life or death. As a result, there is a constant battle among medical device manufacturers to develop products with superior ergonomics, risk-free designs, and the ability to meet extensive technical requirements—all while maintaining a reasonable profit margin. In response to these concerns, Value Plastics has developed a new line of quick connect fittings. Their BPL Series of tubing connectors incorporates a number of features that are not only aimed at meeting engineers’ needs but also designed to ease users’ stress and frustration that can arise from use in critical situations.

Ergonomic Design

Fig. 1 – BPL series of tubing connectors

Ease of use has become a critical factor in medical device design. Healthcare professionals are working long hours and are often placed in situations that don’t allow time for hesitation. For this reason, Value Plastics’ engineers have placed a large focus on designing for the end user.

The most distinctive feature of the connectors is the inclusion of ergonomic “wings” (patent pending) on opposite sides of the male connector. These wings are large enough for the pad of a thumb and forefinger, yet small enough to avoid being caught on surrounding elements. (See Figure 1) Whether the end user is wearing loose-fitting gloves or has any other factor prohibiting them from establishing a firm grip, they will be able to connect and disconnect the tubing without trouble, especially when handling components in a dimly lit environment.

Also on the shroud of both the male and female fittings is a patented 10- point grip. This feature consists of ten grooves circling the body of connector that prevent fingers from slipping when the end user is trying to get a good hold on the fitting.

In order to form a leak-free connection, the end user twists the components in a quarter turn motion. This is followed by a loud click. The sound, coupled with the firm clasp, gives the end user a double confirmation that a secure fit has been made.

Luer Alternative

Due to ease of use and affordability, luer fittings have come to be a common, widely used component in medical devices. However, it is this prevalence that has resulted in a growing risk of tubing misconnections among various devices within healthcare environments.

The BPL Series of connectors was designed with this in mind. Originally targeting the blood pressure industry, the series was engineered to seamlessly integrate only with components unique to blood pressure devices. Remaining incompatible with luer fittings used in other devices, this application- specific design can help to avoid dangerous misconnections that can occur when healthcare professionals are trying to quickly attend a patient or in low light situations.

Rotating Barbs

In order to avoid kinks in tubing, component manufacturers have begun to incorporate rotating barbs into their designs. However, when tubing pushes against the shroud of the fitting, the resulting friction can often impede the desired barb rotation. To address this issue, Value Plastics developed a feature called a “tube stop.” This square-shouldered ridge between the base of the barb and the body of the connector prevents the tubing from pushing against the shroud, thereby allowing for full assembly while also providing for unfettered tube-to-fitting orientation.

Single-Use Technology

Cross contamination within healthcare environments can pose a significant threat due to both the prevalence of disease and the number of patients that face the risk of being exposed, particularly those suffering from compromised immune systems. Unfortunately, while sterilization may be more affordable in some cases, it is not flawless. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a staggering two million hospital- acquired infections result in approximately 90,000 deaths each year in the US and lead to more than $4.5 billion in excess healthcare costs. This is a cause for concern among patients, the healthcare industry, and government.

Therefore, the ability to greatly reduce the risk of spreading infection is one that has prompted a strong demand for single- use technology. The use of disposables is not only beneficial for hospitals but, in watching a nurse open a sterile package, patients are reassured that their health is not potentially being put at risk.

Another benefit of disposables in healthcare is that they are immediately ready for use. When in a hurry, it can be priceless for a nurse to have a device that’s ready to go without the need for sterilization. Quick and easy often wins in these situations, so it’s best to make that choice the safest one.

Early Adopters

The blood pressure market has been the first to adopt the new connectors. One of the largest benefits to this industry is the fact that the new male connectors seamlessly integrate with the female connectors readily in use. Not only does this make adoption easier for OEMs, but the product familiarity makes the transition easy for end users as well.

Other industries have also begun to appreciate how the connectors meet their device requirements. A great example of this is in home-care equipment due to the strong focus on human factors and the need for durability. Compression therapy, one of the most effective non-invasive therapies to manage and treat chronic wounds, and venous disorders, such as edema and chronic venous insufficiency, for instance, benefits from both the intuitive and user-friendly design as well as the strong and rigid ABS and acetal resins that can withstand impact caused by frequent sudden movement.

Many of the specifications that are incorporated into medical devices also fall right in line with those of diagnostic instrumentation. Ease of use, compatibility with a number of chemicals, a wide temperature range, and the disposable nature of the components have resulted in a wide appreciation for the BPL Series.

This article was written by Riley Phipps, Business Development Manager, Value Plastics, Inc., a Nordson Company, Fort Collins, CO. For more information, Click Here .