This article was originally published on infobref.com
The bustle and tension in a hospital emergency room can cause mistakes. Many children fall victim to a common type of error: they are not injected with the right dose of the medication they need to take. Montreal-based start-up Nura Médical has invented a system that solves this problem: it accurately assesses the child’s weight and immediately calculates the right dose.
The problem the company is tackling is the disturbing number of medication dosage errors that children suffer from.
“In North America, in hospital emergency rooms, one in three children are given the wrong dosage,” notes Georgia Powell, co-founder and CEO of Nura Medical.
The causes of these errors stem from several factors. The first is a misjudgment of the child’s weight, because it’s the weight that determines how much product to inject.
“The method is to put the child to bed to measure his or her height, and then deduce the weight from a cross-reference chart,” explains Georgia Powell. This method has several weaknesses. In addition to the fact that the match is not perfect, the information is often transmitted orally from the person taking the measurement to the person who must then calculate the dosage – this in an environment that can be noisy and tense in a real emergency situation.
“With all the steps required now, it takes between 5 and 7 minutes from the time the doctor prescribes a medication to the time the child receives it,” says Georgia Powell. “Inaccurate measurement, miscommunication, miscalculation: all of these things often result in inaccurate dosing in the end. These errors can create harm to the child, lengthen their hospital stay, result in additional care, or sometimes even cause death,” notes Georgia Powell.
Along with two other Master of Science students in Experimental Surgery, Georgia saw firsthand during a hospital internship how inadequate current methods were for preventing errors.
The solution devised by Nura Medical is a complete system: the IV Assistant (“IV” for intravenous).
Its first component is a bracelet that is placed around the child’s arm to measure its circumference.
“We have found that between the ages of 2 months and 18 years, there is an excellent correlation between the circumference of a child’s upper arm and his or her weight,” explains Georgia Powell.
The bracelet is connected wirelessly, via Bluetooth, to a tablet application. Once a nurse points to the prescribed medication on the screen, the app calculates the dosage of the product based on the child’s estimated weight.
The business model is based on selling the system to hospital emergency departments.
The IV Assistant will be offered to them as a software service, with a subscription fee that could be around $5,000 per month. The market is large: in North America, there are 6500 hospitals, 5400 of which offer emergency services. Beyond the emergency room, the product could also be used in ambulances, and perhaps even for adults.
Currently, Nura Medical is in the pre-commercialization phase.
- It is conducting clinical trials at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
At the same time, it is reviewing the engineering of its bracelet, to define exactly how it will be produced.
The company has 6 employees. It is one of 20 startups selected this year in the Bourse+ program of Startup Montreal.
Next steps for Nura:
The company is preparing to have its system approved by regulatory authorities in Canada and the United States. It is currently conducting a seed round of financing to enable it to launch its product. It expects to have its first sales by the end of 2023.