Shield protects from coronavirus during intubation procedure

A new protective barrier invented at UNMC shields and protects health care workers from contagions and other contaminants during intubation procedures.

Inventors Thomas Schulte, M.D., and Michael Ash, M.D., in collaboration with Scott Nepper at Design Plastics, Inc. in Omaha, developed the device in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They were looking for a way to help offset the widespread shortages of personal protective equipment facing healthcare workers but also a better version of intubation boxes already on the market.

“We liked the idea of the intubation box, but worried the rigid construction and size would have limited us to only a few operating rooms,” said Dr. Ash, a physician who is also the vice chancellor for information technology at UNMC and executive vice president and chief transformation officer at Nebraska Medicine. “We also worried about storage after the pandemic. We came up with a lightweight, foldable solution that is easily maneuverable for our providers and easy to clean. We now have thirty Intubation Shields deployed around the hospital.”

The Intubation Shield looks like a four-sided box made of a clear, lightweight plastic. It has ports so a healthcare professional can access the patient.

Easily maneuverable and adjustable, the Intubation Shield acts as a barrier to any pathogens a patient might express as a physician installs a tube down a patient’s throat and into the lungs. The tube provides an uninterrupted air supply for patients that struggle to breathe, including those suffering the more severe symptoms of COVID-19.

“The intubation shield provides an additional layer of safety and is so easy to use we plan on using the shield on every intubation of patients we suspect may have COVID-19,” said Schulte, an anesthesiologist at Nebraska Medicine.

The box is lightweight, folds flat for easy storage and can be cleaned for multiple uses, including cleaning using UV methods.

UNeMed, the technology transfer and commercialization office for UNMC and the University of Nebraska at Omaha, will ship intubation boxes to hospitals in some of the areas hardest hit by COVID-19.

Michael Dixon, CEO of UNeMed said, “We are humbled to be able to play a role in helping to protect providers on the front line and grateful to our inventors for creating an easy-to-use tool that could help stop the spread.”

A video demonstrating how the Intubation Shield works is available here.