Injecting accurate medication with a “Syringe Brake”

Examining a prototype of Syringe Brake
Yasmin Ng (left) and Felicia Soon (right) examine a prototype of Syringe Brake together // Credit: CGH

For a patient in a medical emergency, medication often has to be given quickly­­­­ and in the correct dose, not necessarily an easy feat given the high-stakes situation. That is until Syringe Brake came along.

Conceptualised by Changi General Hospital (CGH) and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), Syringe Brake is a medical device affixed to a syringe to control the amount of medication delivered, which enhances medication safety.

Made of a series of nine numbered tabs spaced at 1mL intervals, the device works like the circuit breakers found in electrical wiring in homes. While circuit breakers interrupt the flow of the current, Syringe Brake prevents the plunger from shooting past the desired amount, effectively stopping the flow of the medication.

This stopping mechanism at each numbered tab allows users to adjust the dose of medication safely by breaking the appropriately numbered tabs. To inject 1mL of medication into the patient, one simply needs to break the tab numbered “1” on the device.  


How it came about

Syringe Brake was designed by Felicia Soon, an SUTD alumna during a course that she undertook for her Engineering Product Development degree programme in 2017.

"The aim was to make an affordable and simple attachment for medical syringes that was easy to use and hassle-free,” said Soon. She was mentored by CGH Senior Principal Pharmacist and co-inventor, Yasmin Ng and SUTD Senior Lecturer Dr Xiaojuan Khoo for the project.

Soon produced the initial prototypes for Syringe Brake using 3D-printing facilities available at SUTD. The prototype was further refined by Ng who looked into product design, sterilisation and compatibility and feedback from Accident & Emergency doctors and nurses. “Recognising its potential for adoption at CGH and in similar healthcare settings, CGH drove the project from ideation to adoption,” said Ng, who worked with CGH’s Office of Innovation to create a mould to scale up the production of Syringe Brake for wider testing.


The journey thus far

Eventually, Syringe Brake was put through several trials at CGH and other hospitals in Singapore in 2018, before it was brought to the market by CGH in 2019.

Since then, it has become a vital safety device in their emergency departments.

"With the addition of Syringe Brake to our existing safety processes, CGH's accident and emergency went without an intravenous morphine bolus error for close to three years from 2017 to 2020," said Ng.

Adapted from Singapore Health.