Necessity giving birth to range of inventions

Many hope to capitalize on bright ideas, find paths to market, as traditional jobs show less promise


Published: Sunday, January 2, 2011 at 4:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 2, 2011 at 9:19 a.m.


Nurse Terri Barton-Salinas invented color coded IV lines with her sister Gail Barton-Hay and formed the company ColorSafe IV Lines.   --John Burgess / PD

In 37 years as a nurse, Terri Barton-Salinas has seen how hospital errors can put patients' lives at risk "Making a medication mistake is a nurse's worst nightmare," she said.

Deaths and injuries have been traced to mix-ups with intravenous lines and other kinds of clear plastic tubes that deliver medicine, fluids, nutrition, oxygen and blood to sick patients.

When numerous lines are attached to a patient, it can be hard to tell them apart -- and easy to make a mistake.

So Barton-Salinas came up with color-tinted IV lines that make it simple for nurses to safely administer multiple medications. Now she's working with a Sonoma County company to sell the product.

Barton-Salinas represents a new wave of inventors hoping to turn their good ideas into gold.

The tough economy is spurring more people to market their inventions, said Steve Schneider, director of the Sawyer Center at Santa Rosa Junior College, a free program that helps clients develop and commercialize new products.

"I'm seeing an increase because so many people have been laid off," he said. "They always had ideas, but they never implemented them."

Inventor groups across the country are reporting more activity, as discouraged job-seekers try to launch their own products.

Schneider said the inventions he's seeing range from medical devices to solar energy to pet products The recession is spawning solo and group entrepreneurs, said Robert Coleman of Pacific Venture Club, a Petaluma organization that works with startups. "You have a lot of smart guys in tech who don't have jobs," he said. "They're almost forced to do something on their own."

But the market isn't for the faint-hearted. There are plenty of pitfalls on the road to success.

With the recession, there are fewer lenders and investors to support startups. And entrepreneurs must be wary of shady companies that promise to develop their ideas but do little or nothing for the fees they charge.

"A lot of people have great ideas, but they don't know where to go," Schneider said. The Sawyer Center offers help with product research and development, the patent process, pricing, licensing, marketing and other business basics.

Barton-Salinas said she had no idea whether there was a market for her invention, but she knew that easy identification of intravenous lines would save lives.

"As our patients got sicker, we were giving them more and more medication through IVs," she said. She developed her own ways to tell the lines apart.

"I used little pieces of tape so I could keep track of things," said Barton-Salinas, who works at a hospital in Vallejo. "I always thought that if these lines were colored from top to bottom, how easy it would make my life."

She talked about the idea with her sister, Gail Barton-Hay, who is also a nurse. The solution seemed obvious. "Everybody who has ever worked in ICU has probably thought of it," Barton-Hay said.

The sisters obtained a patent on the idea, but they still didn't know how to bring it to market.

That's when they heard about Sawyer Center and met with Schneider. He connected them with Royce Brooks of Creative Safety Solutions, a Guerneville company that develops and markets medical safety products.

Brooks said his research showed there was a need for the nurses' invention. "Ten people are going to die in U.S. hospitals today because of medical IV mix-ups," he said.

In August, an article in the New York Times drew attention to a spate of hospital deaths and injuries from infusion tube mistakes. It blamed lax oversight from the Food and Drug Administration.

Brooks has partnered with the nurses in a new company, ColorSafe IV Lines, to develop and market the product. Last year, ColorSafe reached a deal with an IV device maker to manufacture the lines in five standard colors -- red, green, orange, blue and purple. They include matching color labels for IV bags.

The IV lines were launched in the U.S. earlier this year and are being tested in hospitals. ColorSafe now is talking with IV pump manufacturers about adopting the product.

Barton-Salinas said the IV lines are getting a good response at medical conventions and trade shows. Now ColorSafe IV is developing color-tinted feeding tubes aimed for a market launch in mid-2011.

"The potential is enormous," Schneider said. "It's a real life saver."

Error-proof Feeding Tube Available Soon

GUERNEVILLE, CA, October 28, 2010 –Royce Brooks, President of Creative Safety Solutions, the management company for Color Safe IV Lines, announced today that the inventors of colored IV lines have taken another step into the medical product business. They have now developed an error-proof feeding tube.

Teri Barton-Salinas, RN and Gail Barton-Hay, RN, are the inventors of ColorSafe IV Lines. They are sisters with over 56 years of combined nursing experience which they have put to use in developing color coated IV lines. ColorSafe IV Lines' color coated intravenous lines and wrap-around IV labels help nurses quickly differentiate multiple intravenous lines. ColorSafe IV Lines are used in combination with a corresponding wrap-around, colored label provided with each IV tubing set. Color coated IV lines with color-matching labels reduce the potential for medication mix-ups.

The new feeding tube system utilizes a distinct color for the supply line and the fittings on the feeding tube. Simple identifying flanges are attached to the newly designed connections. The new design will greatly reduce the number of feeding tube errors that occur.


Teri Barton-Salinas, Royce Brooks and Gail Barton-Hay of ColorSafe IV Lines

Mr. Brooks reports that they will have working samples by the first quarter of 2011 and will be able to deliver the new system by the Summer of 2011.


Royce Brooks, Colorsafe IV Lines

9097 Gilroy Avenue Guerneville, CA 95446


Color Coated IV Infusion Products

GUERNEVILLE, CA, December 1, 2009 – Hospitals continue to develop new and improved communications strategies so doctors, nurses and technicians can provide the best patient care. In some hospital wards speed and accuracy are essential, especially the critical care unit/ICU.

In the ICU nurses must be prepared to manage various complicated devices and multiple medicines delivered through assorted IV catheters, IV pumps and IV ports. ColorSafe IV Lines help nurses quickly and easily differentiate between multiple clear IV lines.

A common example seen in recent years is hospital patient color-coded wristbands/armbands that communicate patient status. Many hospitals have standardized band colors to convey information such as Do Not Resuscitate; Allergy; Fall Risk, etc. Wristbands are useful but must always be read carefully, along with all other labels in hospitals.

In October 2004, the American Society of Anesthesiologists adopted a formal "Statement on the Labeling of Pharmaceuticals for Use in Anesthesiology," supporting the use of five cumulative methods of enhancing the impact of labeling on patient safety, consistent with standards established by the American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM). The ASA further stated, "Color-coding can help with drug classication but prominently printing the drug's name, concentration and volume or total contents is the most important method of ensuring that users will accurately identify the specific medications."

The ASTM color-coding system for syringes containing medications used during an anesthetic identifies the class of drug (induction agents, muscle relaxants, vasopressors, etc.). Many anesthesiologists believe that color-coding on anesthesia syringes and ampoules may lower the number of errors occurring in operating rooms. The American Society of Anesthesiologists and JCHAO, along with other agencies, are combining strategies to reduce errors with high-risk medications. There are ongoing studies.

Healthcare experts agree that medication errors too often cause patient injury, extend a patient's hospital stay, and sometimes result in a patient's death, in sum costing hospitals billions of dollars.


ColorSafe IV Lines' color-tinted intravenous lines and wrap-around IV labels help nurses quickly differentiate multiple intravenous lines. ColorSafe IV Lines are used in combination with a corresponding wrap-around, colored label provided with each IV tubing set. Color-tinted IV lines with matching colored labels reduce the potential for medication mix-ups.

It is common that patients in the ER, ICU, or cardiac care unit have multiple IV lines and multiple insertion sites to administer medication. To avoid errors nurses must be ready to rapidly identify which medications are being delivered into which injection sites.

All nurses must make a visual connection between the IV-fluid bags and the injection site. Some ICU nurses resort to using hand written white labels to differentiate virtually identical clear IV lines.

"As a nurse of 20 years, I have spent a career keeping multiple clear IV lines organized and untangled. ColorSafe IV Lines provides a simple solution to a very serious problem." says Gail Barton-Hay, co-inventor of ColorSafe IV Lines.

Contact: Royce Brooks 1-888-207-9404 |