Prototype pack has designs on medical emergencies

If ex-lifeguard Christine Doolittle has her way, patients who are unconscious or not breathing may one day be rescued thanks in part to an easy-to-access prefilled syringe pack she developed as a prototype last year while earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Industrial Design from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Savannah, GA. The package is not being sold commercially. The prototype was developed as part of a Design Initiative between SCAD and Eastman.

The Design Initiative took place in spring, 2006, during a six-week Industrial Design Innovation class attended by third- and fourth-year students and led by SCAD Professor Bob Fee. The objectives: Help students gain an understanding of industrial package design and awareness of Eastman materials (including Eastar 6763 copolyester, which Doolittle used for the prototype), while providing Eastman with insights into potential medical market applications for its materials.

“I was looking at syringe packaging already on the market, and I noticed that the needle was packed separately from the syringe,” says Doolittle. “To use it, you had to open the package for the needle, attach the needle to the syringe and then take the cap off.”

Doolittle found this method unacceptable. “In an emergency situation, every second is crucial. As a lifeguard for four years, I went through numerous training courses involving products aiding in life-threatening situations,” she recalls. “These experiences gave me a high level of appreciation for products designed with ease-of-use characteristics and led to my design of the ready-to-use syringe pack.”

Doolittle worked with Professor Fee, with other students in her class, and with Eastman personnel to develop the prototype. The one-piece package was designed to include a prefilled syringe containing a liquid medicine that emergency medical technicians, paramedics, or hospital emergency room personnel could use to help rapidly assist patients.

The syringe packaging system Doolittle prototyped aims to reduce the time it takes to open and administer drugs. The pack was designed to use Eastman’s Eastar 6763 copolyester. “All the person has to do is to open it,” she says. The pack essentially replaces the need for a cap for the needle since the needle slides into a small hole in the packaging.

When the package is opened, the syringe follows the motion of the top or bottom of the package as it’s lifted. It doesn’t matter which side is facing up when it’s opened. The pack provides room for the user to grab the needle from the pack.

“The Eastar 6763 copolyester is a very tough material that also provides excellent clarity,” she notes. “And, it can be extruded into a very thin sheet, which means it’s lightweight, reduces material use, and costs. It’s used for the packaging that contains the syringe. It’s a one-piece package. It’s similar to a thin book; if you fold a piece of paper in half, it's just two sides that fold and that meet together.” The pack could accommodate an instructional label.

Doolittle served as a summer intern with a product development firm in Charlotte, NC, during school. After graduation, she interned at a community development firm in Orlando, FL, and is seeking a position in design research. [HCP]

Prospective employers can contact Doolittle through editor Jim Butschli at butschli@packworld.com

--By Jim Butschli, Editor
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