Epidural simulator wins Institution of Engineering and Technology Innovation Award

Dr Venky Dubey, PhD student Neil Vaughan, and awards host and former Apprentice winner Tim Campbell with the trophy.L-R: Dr Venky Dubey, PhD student Neil Vaughan, and awards host and former Apprentice winner Tim Campbell at the IET Awards.

A medical device developed by Bournemouth University (BU) and Poole Hospital to make epidural injections safer and more effective has received a prestigious innovation award.

The epidural simulator uses software to predict where a patient’s epidural space will be, and helps doctors electronically measure the loss of pressure that occurs when they reach the space, to prevent errors.

The project won the Information Technology category at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Innovation Awards, which received more than 400 entries from over 30 countries.

“We knew that our project is unique as it blends engineering expertise and knowledge of clinicians directly dealing with the problems in their day to day care,” said Dr Venky Dubey, Associate Professor in Research at BU, who is leading the epidural simulator project alongside PhD student Neil Vaughan and Dr Michael Wee and Dr Richard Isaacs from Poole Hospital.

“We have done this several times in the past, competing with international institutions of repute like MIT and Harvard, but what is unbelievable this time is that we have won it against giant companies vying for this coveted award.

“Honestly, we are shocked to have won this award. It’s like winning a Technological Oscar for our hard work”.

He added: “This clearly shows that there is a technology gap in patient care for epidurals and the associated safety issues. This award recognises our innovative approach that has the potential to reduce patient injury and improve training experience of anaesthetists.”

The IET Innovation Awards celebrate the best innovations in science, technology and engineering. The ceremony took place at The Brewery, in London last week.

The judging panel for the Information Technology category, in which the epidural simulator was named winner, said: “The standard for the IT Category is always high and this year was no exception. The 2013 winning entry provides an innovative training solution to the teach epidural procedure to medical practitioners.”