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'MacGyver' Nurses Build Their Own Solutions

By Alexandra Wilson Pecci  
   October 08, 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.

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.

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