A Medical Device Daily

American Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ; Washington) reported that it is providing more than $5 million for 19 new grants under its “Improving Patient Safety Through Simulation Research” request for applications.

The projects focus on assessing and evaluating the roles that simulation can play to improve the safe delivery of quality health care. The Institute of Medicine (IOM; Washington) estimated that medical errors are the eighth leading cause of death among Americans.

Medical simulation involves scenarios in which real-life medical situations are re-created so that healthcare providers can practice new procedures and techniques before performing them on patients and potentially placing them at risk. These projects are expected to inform providers, health educators, payers, policy makers, patients, and the public about the effective use of simulation in preventing medical errors and improving patient safety.

The simulation projects focus on a range of interventions that can contribute to a safer healthcare environment, including effective communication among members of the health care team, disclosure of medical errors to patients and their families, the effects of implementing health information technology, and patient handoffs and transitions within hospitals. Several projects focus on teamwork in high-risk settings such as emergency departments, labor and delivery units, and intensive care units. These projects will have an immediate and long-term impact by accelerating the implementation of new simulation tools to improve patient safety, AHRQ said.

The projects span a wide spectrum of settings and populations, in 16 states throughout the U.S., including Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia , Louisiana State UniversityHealth Sciences Center (New Orleans) and Scott and White Hospital (Temple, Texas).

In other grants/contracts news:

• Fluidigm (South San Francisco) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab; Berkeley, California) have received funding from the National Institutes of Health to develop a microfluidic chip for collection of in situ X-ray diffraction data. The diffraction-capable chip will be designed so that protein crystals can be screened at a synchrotron without having to first remove them from the chip. The new technology will allow researchers to identify the best crystals for diffraction experiments using actual X-ray data rather than relying on qualitative measures, such as visual inspection. This chip-based method is expected to eliminate the need to manipulate crystals prior to data collection, a step that often results in mechanical damage to the fragile crystals.

The grant includes funding for instrument modifications at the synchrotron facility, where scientists would send the diffraction-capable chips containing intact crystals. Diffraction data will be collected from every experiment in the chip and then deposited on-line. This preliminary diffraction data will allow users to focus their efforts on the crystallization conditions that produce the best diffracting crystals, providing a tremendous savings in time and cost.

The goal of protein crystallography is to construct a detailed representation of the atomic structure of the protein, knowledge basic to understanding its biological function in an organism and may guide the development of new drugs.

“In this tight funding environment, receiving an STTR [Small Business Technology Transfer] Phase II grant attests to the value that the NIH places on our crystallization technology,” said Fluidigm CEO Gajus Worthington.

Fluidigm said it pioneered the field of microfluidic, or chip-based, protein crystallization, marketed as the Topaz system.

Fluidigm develops and distributes systems based on the unique properties of integrated fluidic circuits (IFCs) to precisely control fluids on a nano-volume scale.

• Mercury Computer Systems (Chelmsford, Massachusetts) has entered a three-year agreement to provide a picture archiving and communications system (PACS) solutions to Genesis Digital Imaging (Los Angeles).

Genesis supports distributors in the medical imaging industry with products and services, and will distribute Mercury’s Visage web-enabled PACS solutions under their product umbrella Omni-WEB PACS, throughout the North American market. The agreement with Genesis extends Mercury’s strategy of providing its medical imaging solutions to the marketplace through top-tier dealers and distributors.

Genesis plans to combine the Kodak desktop CR system with the Mercury Visage web-PACS server.

BioLucent, (Aliso Viejo, California), maker of the MammoPad breast cushion, reported a new agreement to provide MammoPad to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC; Lebanon, New Hampshire).

The MammoPad breast cushion will be provided to all of the roughly 15,000 women each year who receive screening or diagnostic mammograms at DHMC.

MammoPad is a radiolucent, FDA-cleared foam cushion that covers the cold, hard surfaces of all commercially available mammography equipment. Clinical studies show the cushion can reduce mammography-related discomfort by half for three out of four women.

BioLucent is a women’s health company dedicated to the early detection and treatment of breast cancer.