For many, the word “design” is often associated with fashion and lifestyle products. So, it might be hard for some to wrap their head around the fact that design is actually applicable to any field, even medicine! That’s right! I’m talking about applying design to medical instruments not only to enhance their aesthetic appeal but also to provide solutions to users – medical professionals.
My fellow designers from Design Catalyst by SCG Chemicals and I focus on designing products to answer users’ needs, placing emphasis on both functions that will offer greater convenience and the aesthetic of the products. Our services provide design solutions. That is, we obtain insights into our clients’ problems first and then design according to the function requirements, giving the product an attractive appearance. In addition, we also recommend choice of materials and assist with production control to ensure that the product is manufactured in accordance with the design.
For this project, Design Catalyst by SCG Chemicals was entrusted by the executives and nurses of Bangkok Dusit Medical Services (BDMS) with the interesting task of designing and determining the appropriate material for “sharps disposal bins.”
What are sharps disposal bins?
If you have had an injection in a hospital, you may have seen bins that nurses discard their needles into. These receptacles help prevent used sharps from causing injuries or infection and are emptied when they are filled up. But what exactly was wrong with existing bins? Why were nurses looking for a new model? Follow me on this journey to find out the answers.
To create a solution for this medical device, the design team needed to obtain in-depth information on every related aspect from users. On our first day, our conversations with many nurses revealed major pain points. Needles often stuck out of the bin, and the bin sometimes overflowed, which presented the risk for injuries and infection.
However, just listening to the nurses was not sufficient. My team and I went on site to shadow these nurses and collect data to develop a new sharps disposal bin. One day, we had the opportunity to shadow Umaporn Kaewsuk, a registered nurse at the Intensive Care Unit of Bangkok Hospital. She said that blood drawing was part of her daily routine. In addition, the working condition of the ICU presented more limitations, such as the limited space. Also, the cylindrical shape of the previous model did not fit in corners. The design team made use of these observations to inform the design of a new sharps disposal bin that was suitable for confined spaces and was rectangular in shape so that it could be placed neatly in corners and conveniently hung on nurse trolleys.
After compiling a list of shortcomings from our observation and the accounts of nurses in different wards, we designed a safer and more convenient sharps disposal bin. As the bin is used to contain sharps, we have selected plastic that resists penetration or tearing. Also, during use, the lid has to swing open easily without having to use hands.
In addition, the bin has been designed to be transparent so that nurses can look from outside and tell if the bin is three quarters full yet. This is because JCI (Joint Commission International) standards stipulate that, to prevent medical professionals from getting infected by patients’ bodily fluids, once sharps fill up three-fourths of the way, the bin must be closed, locked, and then replaced to prevent an overflow.
Working to meet the client’s needs were not only the design team but also various other teams in Design Catalyst, which joined hands to bring the best solution to the client. For instance, the technical engineering team, with its expertise in material science, supervised the production and the selection of suitable plastic and manufacturers for the project. The effort resulted in a new sharps disposal bin that successfully solved the problems that nurses encountered, enabling them to perform their duties with more confidence.
After the project, we reviewed what we have learned to apply to our future undertakings. For this project, what we are extremely proud of is that we have successfully delivered a product that offers a real solution to users. Medical professionals can use the product conveniently and without worry — an impressive achievement thanks to a design solution.
As for our next challenge, I’ll come back and tell you more about it next time.
Business Development Director
Bangkok Dusit Medical Services PLC (BDMS)
N Health is a subsidiary of BDMS and has worked in collaboration with SCG Chemicals for a long time. We are well aware of their team’s professionalism and attention to detail. Our challenge for the design team was to come up with a sharps disposal bin of the same size that was capable of containing more sharps, offered better functions, and could be used conveniently and safely. The finished product has answered all our needs, especially the safety of both health professionals and patients. The new bin is rectangular, as opposed to cylindrical, and is equipped with a double lid that opens and closes automatically. This means that users can discard needles without having to remove them or touching the bin’s lid. In addition to this sharps disposal bin, we will certainly continue to develop new products in the future.
Advantages Of the Innovative Sharps Disposal Bin
- Use And Storage Safety
- The bin allows for a one-hand operation technique when discarding needles or syringes
- The lid requires no touching as it will swing open automatically when an object drops on it and swing close by itself.
- The lid can be locked after use.
The bin can be assembled easily and comes equipped with handles for portability. It also requires small storage space and can be transported conveniently.
- A special polypropylene for thin-wall injection molding has been selected. Because the same strength can be achieved with less plastic, the bin is lighter by 8%.
- The rectangular shape increases the capacity for sharps by 42%.
- Because less plastic is used, the bin requires less fuel upon disposal and produces 32% less carbon dioxide.
*Patent Application Number 1602003570
Head of Eye and LASIK Department
I am impressed by the design of the sharps disposal bin that SCG Chemicals has come up with. The lid with an extra flap inside obviates the need for users to open it themselves. In addition, because the flap is sensitive even to light needles, there is no need to worry that discarded needles will get lodged on the lid. When dropped into the bin, needles will fall neatly inside. In addition, as the bin is transparent, users can tell when it needs to be replaced. This innovation not only ensures safety for users but also prevents the problems of needles sticking or the bin overflowing, which in turn removes the risks of injury when using the product.
Design Catalyst is a business unit dedicated to providing consultancy and designing and creating product prototypes. It is also committed to product development to add value to plastic products.
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Design Catalyst by SCG Chemicals
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