German medical technology industry awards innovation for patient safety

The German Society for Biomedical Engineering (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Biomedizinische Technik, DGBMT) and the Aktionsbündnis für Patientensicherheit (The Patient Safety Action Group) have presented their annual Medical Technology Safety Award. The honor is given to young researchers and engineers in institutes, hospitals, and industry who made outstanding contributions to the design of safe, reliable medtech.

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This year, the top honors went to engineer Karin Somerlik-Fuchs of inomed Medizintechnik GmbH of Emmendingen. Somerlik-Fuchs received the EUR 5000 first prize together with Prof. Dr. Werner Kneist of the University Medical Center Mainz, and Klaus-Peter Hoffmann a research engineer and professor at the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering (IMBT). Together they developed a neuromonitoring system that enables protection of key nerves during surgery. The team has presented the results of their work in a paper called "Intraoperative Neuromonitoring of the Autonomic Nervous System in the Pelvis Minor."

Surgery near major nerve pathways involves the risk of nerve damage that often has the potential to adversely affect the patient's quality of life and increases subsequent healthcare costs. Somerlik-Fuchs' team has made it possible to identify during surgery, and protect from damage the nerves responsible for emptying the bladder and colon, and for sexual function. The paper describes the team's years of effort to develop an intraoperative neuromonitoring system – from the basic research to planning a multicentric study to assess the system's clinical effects. Initial clinical studies show the system reduced patient complications.

The award winners illustrate the type of interdisciplinary cooperation that is a key characteristic of Germany's medical technology industry and one that has contributed to making it one of the world's best. Industry, clinical medicine, and basic research joined forces – with inomed, University Medical Center Mainz, and the Fraunhofer IMBT, working together – to develop the innovative, effective, neuromonitoring system.

The export initiative for the German healthcare industry, HEATLH MADE IN GERMANY, has published a profile of the industry called The Medical Technology Sector that can be downloaded here or from the HEALTH MADE IN GERMANY website. HEALTH MADE IN GERMANY will also be distributing the profile at MEDICA in Düsseldorf from November 18 to November 21.

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