THE safety of very sick patients could be improved with a revolutionary new device being developed by experts in Yorkshire.
Hull University has been awarded a grant worth 640,000 to develop a unique feeding tube.
Patients too sick to eat normally have been fed since Egyptian times through nasogastric tubes which are inserted into the stomach.
But in some cases mistakes mean the tube can go into the lungs, with serious and sometimes fatal consequences.
Now experts from Hull plan to develop a prototype for patients on hospital wards, neonatal and intensive care units and in homes where parents care for children who cannot feed normally to include a fail-safe detection mechanism for the placement of the tubes.
Barbara Elliott, senior lecturer in nursing in the faculty of health and social care, who is leading the project with colleagues, said: "A fail-safe mechanism to detect the correct location of a nasogastric tube would be of great benefit to nursing practice.
"It would increase nurses' confidence in the delivery of nasogastric feeding and reduce incidences of complications from malpositioned tubes."
Ms Elliott added: "The system also has the potential to reduce the need for x-rays to confirm location.
"Such a system has the potential to reduce distress experienced by patients as a result of repeated insertions as well as time savings for healthcare staff."
Robert Singh, of the university's Knowledge Exchange, said: "This revolutionary development will be straight forward for nurses and carers to adopt because of its ease of use, and the obvious advantages in terms of safety make it the method of choice, not only in the UK but in every hospital in the world."
The grant from the National Institute for Health Research will enable the development, manufacture and testing of the prototype over the next three years.
hull university: Researchers at the faculty of health and social care have received a major grant.