Nurse and alumnus Spencer Jones created FDA-cleared and registered SafeBreak Vascular technology to prevent IV dislodgement, helping patients, nurses, and medical facility outcomes.
Spencer Jones, former student of Eleanor Mann School of Nursingwas working night shifts on a busy medical-surgical floor when the idea for a separation device for intravenous catheters was born.
“I regularly had five to six patients at a time. Pretty much all of them had IV catheters, and I felt like they were constantly failing,” he said. Most of the time, the tubes were pulled out, which happened for a variety of reasons: patients tripped over the tubes, they snagged on a doorknob in the bathroom, or snagged on a bed rail during transfers to wheelchairs or stretchers.
“It was frustrating because I had no tools at my disposal to prevent these complications from happening,” he said.
Jones knew that breakaway devices were used in gas station pumps and for magnetic laptop chargers. “So the concept wasn’t new. It was just a new application of an existing concept,” he said.
Its proprietary, proprietary SafeBreak Vascular technology — which allows nurses to quickly replace failing IVs without a new catheter or additional needle stick — was approved by the FDA in May 2022. It took three years.
“It was probably one of the happiest times of my life. I cried as soon as we finished the Zoom call with the FDA,” Jones said. “It took years longer than we thought to get FDA clearance, and I was starting to feel a little impostor syndrome, to be honest. Having to tell friends and investors ‘No still permission, we are still in regulation “for three years have really aged.”
From scrubs to sales
While FDA clearance was a huge weight on Jones’ shoulders, he had to quickly go into sell mode, “what any entrepreneur can tell you is just as difficult,” he said.
Jones is the Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Lineus Medical, and more than half of his company’s employees are either current University of Alberta students or alumni. “Of the nine employees we have, three are graduates and two are students,” he said. “We have also taken advantage of the internship program at the University of Alberta on several occasions. It is a great way to gain talented support and a unique learning opportunity for interns.”
Lineus Medical offices are just down the road from campus, two blocks from Fayetteville Square. Jones said it was good to be back in Arkansas. He created SafeBreak Vascular while a nurse in Memphis and was accepted into the city’s ZeroTo510 business accelerator in 2015. He refined the business plan, developed prototypes and presented the product to several administrators of hospitals and clinicians in the Memphis area. He left the business incubator in August 2015 and moved to northwest Arkansas in 2016. Then he started raising seed money to get the business off the ground.
The company filed its first patent in the fall of 2015. Since then, it has obtained three additional patents for SafeBreak. “We also protected different design configurations because you’re constantly finding ways to improve the design, and it’s important to protect the best design, as well as the second and third best designs,” he said.
The profession of nursing
Jones loves that moment when her fellow nurses see the technology for the first time at trade shows. “Their faces light up,” he says. “Usually they immediately say, ‘I could have used it last week when that patient tripped over his tubing!’ Half the time they’re like, ‘I bet some nurse made that up,’ and I’m like, ‘Yes, indeed!'”
Jones said nurses are uniquely positioned to take a more active role in the development, commercialization and commercialization of medical devices.
“One of my big goals is to get nursing schools to introduce more progressive course design and professional development for their students,” he said. “I sincerely believe that exposing young nurses to design thinking and helping them understand the different life science career paths available with their nursing degree will help transform our healthcare system, which has an urgent need for change.”
This story is the latest in a series featuring students, faculty and staff in the College of Education and Health Professions that illustrate the core of the college WE CARE Priorities. The college is helping solve complex education and health challenges in Arkansas and beyond through this new initiative. Visit COEHP’s online magazine, the Coworker, for more news from the six units that make up the college. Visit the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing page for more information on the COEHP nursing program.