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Self-destructing syringe is made to save lives

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November 28, 2011

Star Syringes' K1 Auto Disposable syringe can only be used once, to reduce the spread of d...

Star Syringes' K1 Auto Disposable syringe can only be used once, to reduce the spread of disease through the reuse of syringes on multiple patients

In these days of reducing, reusing and recycling, it may seem strange that anyone would be going out of their way to make a potentially reusable product disposable. It all makes sense, however, when that product is a syringe. According to the World Health Organization, every year approximately 1.3 million people die worldwide, due to diseases contracted through the reuse of syringes. Part of this can be chalked up to needle-sharing by users of illicit intravenous drugs, but much of it is due to health care workers (particularly those with little training or in impoverished conditions) using the same syringe to inoculate multiple patients. If a syringe simply ceases to function after one use, however, reusing it is impossible. That's the idea behind Star Syringes' K1 Auto Disposable syringe.

The K1 incorporates a small ring, that is etched onto the inside of the syringe barrel. A specially-adapted plunger is able to move past that ring when it's delivering an injection, but cannot be drawn back over it - if it's forced, the end of the plunger will snap off inside the syringe. The technology can be licensed to regional syringe-making companies, that will only need to make a minor adjustment to the molding process in their existing production lines. It will reportedly cost them no more to manufacture than a conventional syringe.

Because the syringes can't be reused, that does mean that organizations using them will have to spend more money on supplies, as a new syringe will be required for each injection. The savings that will be experienced through lowered health care costs due to the reduced spread of diseases such as hepatitis B, however, should more than make up the difference.

The K1 Auto Disposable syringe is currently in use by governments and organizations in both First World and developing nations. Star Syringes also makes a needle cap that protects users against accidental needlesticks, and an aspiration device that is said to make injections quicker and more accurate.

Source: New Scientist

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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6 Comments

Depending on how late in the injection process this ring is engaged, you could simply stop from pushing the plunger all the way. Sure, the volume would be less but you could compensate by filling a little extra from the beginning. If the same drug is administered to several patients, the unused part would not be an issue, but certainly the risk of spreading diseases.

The lack of syringes and proper education is the main problem, hence the re-use. I'd start in that end.

Alexander Engman
29th November, 2011 @ 05:44 am PST

@Alexander Engman- Exactly my thoughts when I saw hit TED talk a few months back.

Mr.Kim
29th November, 2011 @ 07:14 am PST

The problem mentioned in the above cases could be easily fixed by shipping dosages of medication already in the syringe. A clip could be used to keep the plunger out as well.

Combining that with a ring to stop syringe reuse would effectively stop needle reuse for medication or for drugs of abuse. Of course, old needles will be around for a while yet, but this would help a lot in terms of accountability.

Charles Bosse
29th November, 2011 @ 01:37 pm PST

Or stop using syringes, and move towards the Aussie Nano-Patch invention instead?

christopher
29th November, 2011 @ 05:50 pm PST

Health workers and re using syringes - as a syringe user my self - for adhesives, oils, accurate internal measurements of internal volumes etc., MY number one preference is for good quality GLASS syringes - with the glass barrel and plunger.

This is because they can be reused almost indefinitely and they can pump almost anything.

And being glass, they can be cleaned with and in almost anything as well.

I think that the whole issue of disposable syringes is fairly outrageous - and the real issue is one of COST in wage times for cleaning the gear, vs using cheap disposables.

As to why they are not cleaned by soaking and flushing in some solution such as hydrogen peroxide, or ozonated water and perhaps a ultrasonic cleaner as well - between reuses is beyond me.

I know of IV drug users that had the same glass syringes that were cleaned and resharpened and had been in daily use for many years.

So back to the issue, train the health workers, and go back to PROPERLY and FULLY reusable syringes - with PROPER cleaning methods.

Problem solved.

Mr Stiffy
30th November, 2011 @ 01:48 am PST

Years back there was an invention of a ring inside the needle that absorbed a small amount of the liquid, swelling up and closing off the needle. Combined with non-removable needles, it did the same job as this syringe.

If this one just traps the rubber plunger tip, that can be pushed back out with a metal rod inserted through the front after removing the needle.

Gregg Eshelman
30th November, 2011 @ 01:53 am PST
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