New safety elements for a cataract surgery scalpel prevent sharps injuries without compromising quality, ease of use, or accuracy.
Waves of targeted research delivered the catalysts to rethink and redesign what doctors and nurses have come to expect from a safety knife.
Research drove a holistic, safety-focused product design strategy for the world leader in ophthalmic knives — a cataract surgery scalpel that skirts broad patents and meets manufacturing requirements.
The ClearCut™ S Safety Series safety scalpel is a disposable incisional instrument used during cataract surgery.
The patented retractable blade guard protects doctors and nurses from accidental sharps injuries; reducing injuries and minimizing the potential spread of infectious disease. Intuitive single-handed activation enables protection with minimal change to typical workflow.
The Challenge: More than three million cataract surgeries are performed in the U.S. each year. And with each procedure performed with traditional scalpels, there is risk of accidental sharps injury while passing the scalpel from assistant to surgeon. The CDC estimates “between 600,000 and 800,000 needle sticks and other percutaneous injuries occur among healthcare workers annually.” Speed and safety are paramount for the patient and medical staff.
Generative Research: To understand the way the product is used and identify opportunities to design a safer scalpel, Bresslergroup’s team first conducted ethnographic research. This consisted of one-on-one interviews with nurses and surgeons as well as observing pre-surgery prep and more than a dozen surgeries from inside operating rooms.
This contextual inquiry and subsequent documentation of subjects’ workflow surfaced insights about safety issues that could be mitigated with design solutions. Bresslergroup’s researchers noted that surgeons’ eyes are focused on the view through a binocular microscope while rapidly using and transferring scalpels and other sharps with an assistant to perform incisions that only take a few seconds.
The surgeons need to be able to detect whether or not they’ve retracted or activated the scalpel shield without removing their eyes from the microscope. With this in mind, Bresslergroup’s designers developed features that provide clear tactile and audible feedback about the activation and state of the shielding mechanism.
Contextual inquiry surfaced insights about safety issues that could be mitigated with design solutions.
Evaluative Research: After building rapid, rough prototypes for internal evaluation and client feedback, Bresslergroup’s project team made three competing “works like, looks like” prototypes to take into the field — and back to the same nurses and surgeons for their evaluation. Formative testing with these realistic prototypes identified immediate risk factors, and ergonomic analysis determined risk of injuries from long-term, repetitive tool use. One-on-one interviews with these original subjects also gave designers a good idea of which key features were most valuable to merge into the final design.