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'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 ...