When you go to the hospital, your vital signs are monitored through three separate cables. The ER gets hectic (holiday weekend, traffic pileup, full moon), and sometimes those cables go missing. They can follow an admitted patient from the emergency room up to his floor, or a resident puts them in her pocket at the end of a long shift.
Those cables are essential, since they set off an alarm when your heart races or your blood pressure plummets. They are also expensive: $294.85 for a set of three, which adds up. If you had to replace cables once a year for each of the 315 beds at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in Patchogue, NY, it would cost $92,877.75. So Brookhaven has a Cable Guy.
Steven Jaworski is a biomedical technician who does everything from outfit Brookhaven’s new cardiac health lab to replacing these cables. He had to replace so many cables that he ordered cable tethers from a medical supplier for $24.50 per cable, or $73.50 for a set of three. But surgical scissors cut through these tethers easily.
Then Jaworski asked for a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer to solve his cable problem. He designed a tamperproof cable tether. Between the dense black PLA and thick wire, it costs $7.94. It holds all three cables, and surgical scissors can’t cut through it.
Jaworski’s cable tethers saved Brookhaven Hospital $60,000 in three months. But Jaworski says the best thing about having a MakerBot Replicator 2 is its versatility. “It’s not a Phillips-head screwdriver when you need a flathead. It’s basically a solution that has paid for itself many times over.”
For example, Brookhaven has a Jackson table, which is used for spinal surgeries, where the patient lies on his belly. The Jackson table has a mirror so the doctors can see a patient’s face in the reflection. To adjust the mirror, there are two knobs. One of the knobs broke. It can take weeks to get a part like this from the manufacturer, if they’d sell it to you, and in the meantime the Jackson table was out of commission. Jaworski printed a knob from Thingiverse in three hours and the Jackson table was ready again that afternoon. He also made a spare knob for the operating room, in case it broke again.
Brookhaven does four surgeries a week on that Jackson table. So a missing knob means four patients whose suffering is prolonged, whose healing is delayed.
Then Jaworski made a bumper for the blanket-warming cabinets in the emergency room, protecting the doors from collisions with stretchers. Warm blankets mean comfortable, happy patients.
He will keep finding ways to improve care at Brookhaven with the 3D printer: “You don’t know when you’re going use it, you don’t know what you’re going to use it for, but you’re always going to need it.”