Lifesaving device now in use from White House to Iraq

Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., president of the Health Science Center, speaks to Gov. Rick Perry about EZ-IO™, a new lifesaving method to quickly infuse blood, medications and fluids into critically ill patients.

San Antonio (Feb. 11, 2005) – A Lone Star recipe for a revolutionary invention: Start with a great idea in the mind of an emergency room physician. Add academic and industrial resources to turn the concept into a device. Get FDA approval. Prove the device’s safety and usefulness in battlefield and civilian emergencies. Show the device to EMS directors nationwide.

Get ready for attention. If you build it, the governor of Texas just might come.

That’s the scenario that played out today (Feb. 11) as Gov. Rick Perry visited VidaCare Corp. in San Antonio to be briefed on the EZ-IO™, a truly new lifesaving method to quickly infuse blood, medications and fluids into critically ill patients who might die waiting for traditional IV lines. Gov. Perry took the opportunity to speak about the $300 million Emerging Technologies Fund, which he is proposing during the current session of the Texas Legislature.

The governor is highlighting successful examples of technology transfer from the state’s research centers. The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio provided research resources that helped VidaCare to bring the device to market. “This private and state academic partnership will serve as a model for the future,” predicts Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., president of the Health Science Center. “We are grateful that VidaCare came to us with this excellent idea and that we have been able to play a strong supporting role in its development.”

Larry Miller, M.D., is chief executive officer of VidaCare and served as chairman of hospital emergency rooms in San Antonio for 30 years. U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of the EZ-IO in 2004 culminated more than a dozen years of work on his part. “There are now two units of the EZ-IO in the White House,” he says proudly.

Already, the EZ-IO has saved lives.

In Montgomery County north of Houston, where the EZ-IO had been used more than 100 times in emergency situations by early February, the device cut in half the amount of time it takes paramedics to go from opening the door of a heart attack victim’s home to establishing lifesaving fluid administration. The time from opening the door to establishing a traditional IV line was documented at 17 minutes in Montgomery County, while the time with the EZ-IO was nine minutes. Dr. Miller notes that EZ-IO usage improved the victim’s chances of getting to the ER alive by five times, from 5 percent with conventional IV or central lines to 26 percent with EZ-IO.

“So far, emergency personnel have reported more than 20 confirmed cases of lives saved, from young children to the elderly,” Dr. Miller says. “This product really does work.”

The device has even been used in Baghdad, Iraq, during the past two months.

Back in San Antonio, where all the EMS crews now are carrying the EZ-IO, the story has circulated of the paramedic who arrived at a heart attack victim’s home at night. The home was pitch black, so there was no light to start an IV. Suddenly the paramedic remembered “that new thing” in his kit. He felt for it and upon finding it, was able to start fluids in seconds.

The EZ-IO is an intraosseous (IO) device, which means it provides a portal for lifesaving fluids to be infused into the bone marrow cavity. The device, which utilizes a reusable battery-powered driver and disposable IO needle, generally is inserted into the shin just below the knee, although it can be inserted into the arm. Unlike conventional IVs, there is no need to feel for a collapsed vein. Unlike central lines, there is virtually no risk of infection.
“Clearly it is a quantum leap forward,” Dr. Miller says.

San Antonio is the first major city in the United States to make the EZ-IO standard equipment aboard every EMS ambulance and helicopter. “You can’t go anywhere in San Antonio and not be covered by this device,” Dr. Miller says. “You’re going to see every metropolitan area in the United States adopt it.”

Share This Article!