Thinking Ahead Project 4 | infusion stand: Ivy

We all know them, but don’t really question them: drip stands. They are used to suspend infusions. These solutions mostly include fluids that restore a patient’s salt or fluid levels. In special cases, they can also be used to administer medicine or artificial nutrition. Have you ever noticed any complications associated with these devices? University of Leeds product design student Orla Haigh has. After extensive research, she identified several problems and developed a very impressive approach for solving them during her internship at WILDDESIGN in Munich.

Orla’s proceeding

The tools that helped Orla with her research were workflows and a competition analysis. The results: essential problems for a pleasant handling. Those problems led the intern to independently derive requirements for her field: product design. She developed concepts, tested them with the Munich team and optimized them until she got the result presented here: Ivy.

Optimization needs: drip stands

A multitude of problems arose:

  1. The attachment of equipment (e.g. pumps) to the stand is usually done one-handed, as the second hand is needed to prevent the stand from rolling away. This often leads to shoulder and back problems.
  2. The base oftentimes doesn’t fit underneath the hospital furniture along with the casters. The whole base therefore takes up a lot of space.
  3. Most stands have five casters. Thereby, it can get tricky to walk beside the rack without colliding with it.
  4. The instable stands tend to tip over.
  5. Lifting and attaching infusion bags can be dangerous to health, because they get fixed relatively high to the stand.
  6. The attachment of infusion bags to the hook must be done precisely. This is difficult when the post is extended.
  7. Hospital staff is often pressed for time. The bags’ attachment is too complicated and time-consuming.

Details make up the overall picture

Essential for the perception and acceptance of an infusion stand besides an easy and fast handling: the form and their details. To demonstrate a range of approaches, Orla therefore developed various design concepts.

design sketches

She focused on a Y-shaped model, whose upper part is bend forward. It has hooks on both upper ends, which enable the attachment of two infusion bags at once. The attachment is very simple: the bags can easily be hung over the hooks – a precise procedure is not necessary. Quick-lock systems on the hooks secure the bags.

Close up: infusion bag on a hook

Another component of the drip stand: a pump mounting. A pump can be used to set the flow rate of the infusion. When the preset volume and time have elapsed, an acoustic signal sounds. The pump is connected to the infusion bag and can be placed on the pump mounting.

Pump mounting

At the same height, but on the other side of the stand, there is a hand lever. It is used for easy height adjustment in three simple steps: fold up the lever, pull it up or down to adjust the height, and fold the lever back down. There is also a button to unlock the lever.

Height adjustment

The base consists of four pedestals, each with a caster. Their flat tapered shape enables an overlapping storage of the stands, whereby less space is taken up. This means: the base is not only stackable but can also easily be pushed under furniture.

Stackable base

Distancing itself from clinical white and polished stainless steel: a new mix of materials refrains the design from this typical look of IV stands. A mix of matte black with white and turquoise elements creates a refreshingly modern design. A very contemporary overall look, that matches the product environment.

Mobile and stationary application

The design had to meet two main application areas: the location next to the patient bed and the mobile use in the hallways.

Application areas

Since mainly nurses have to deal with the infusion stands, they are the most important target group for potential product improvements alongside patients. In addition to the low base, there is another benefit: the post can be raised up to 1 m above the infusion on the patient, so that hoses and bags are less of a nuisance.

The Ivy infusion stand massively improves mobility in the hallways: four pedestals instead of the conventional five reduce the risk of tripping and ease the pulling of the base. To ensure the stand’s stability despite fewer casters, the number of bags on the hooks is also reduced from four infusions to two. Disturbing swaying of the infusion bags against the pole is prevented by the bent upper part of the stand. Another advantage: more distance to the rack while walking. Thanks to the large, prominent hand lever, the stand can be pushed further away from the user’s own feet.

The optimization in a nutshell

Orla’s final concept solves many of the identified problems: the stands’ storage issue; the shoulder overload that occurs when attaching or detaching IV bags; the complicated height adjustment; and the difficulties of mobile use in hospital hallways. Ivy’s design features can be divided into three categories: the hooks, the height adjustment, and the base.

the infusion bags hang at least 1 m above the infusion at the patient’s bedside
more than one bag can be attached to the hooks
quick attachment of the bags thanks to the quick-lock hooks
reduced risk of dropping the bags
reduced overloading of the shoulder and neck area

Height adjustment:
only minimal energy for height adjustment thanks to the ergonomic hand lever
quick height adjustment due to the simple unlocking system
hand lever enables easy control of the rack during transport
pump attachment on the other side of the lever

the wide and deep design of the base provides a stable frame
4 instead of 5 casters are less disturbing during transport
the stackable base leads to less space needed in storage
less space needed in the hospital room, as the low base can be slid under hospital furniture
transport and especially pushing are easier outdoors and on bumpy floors, because only 4 wheels are installed

One design for three criteria: Function, comfort and aesthetics

The Ivy infusion stand challenges standard models of drip stands and offers solutions for several problems that arise during or before usage. Optimizations focus on space reduction during use in the patient room or warehouse and convenience for patients, nurses and caregivers.

Most IV stands focus on functional aspects – comfort and aesthetics are neglected. Ivy combines these elements and impressively underlines the potential of good product design.

Ivy infusion stand by Orla Haigh

Many thanks to Orla for a very inspiring design!

If you like this concept or single aspects of it, or if you think we should continue working on it, please let us know. We look forward to receiving your feedback at or via the e-mail button below.

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Jule writes about design processes and our medical design projects.

Originally written by Jule Opp, 21. January 2021. Last updated 13. January 2023


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