New shield protects health care workers from COVID-19

Intubation Shield demo


As a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, two physicians at the University of Nebraska Medical Center have invented a new protective barrier that will shield health care workers from contagions and other contaminants during patient intubation procedures.

Inventors Thomas Schulte, MD, and Michael Ash, MD, in collaboration with Scott Nepper at Design Plastics, Inc. in Omaha, Nebraska, were looking for a way to help offset the widespread shortages of personal protective equipment facing health care workers during the pandemic while creating a better version of intubation boxes already on the market.

Photo of Thomas Schulte, MD
Thomas Schulte, MD

"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," says 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 30 Intubation Shields deployed around the hospital."

The Intubation Shield looks like a four-sided box made of a clear, lightweight plastic with ports so a health care 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 from 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 patient intubation where we suspect a COVID-19 diagnosis,” says Dr. Schulte, an anesthesiologist at Nebraska Medicine. 

Photo of Michael Ash, MD
Michael Ash, MD

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

UNeMed, the technology transfer and commercialization office for the University of Nebraska Medical Center and 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 says, “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.”

Orders for the devices can be placed here.

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