The SAPHE Pad: Signaling A Postpartum Hemorrhage Emergency Warning System


Member profile details

Membership level
2011-2012 Team
Team Name
Project Title
The SAPHE Pad: Signaling A Postpartum Hemorrhage Emergency Warning System
Design Challenge
140,000 women die of postpartum hemorrhage every year, making it the leading cause of maternal mortality around the world. Rapid treatment requires early diagnosis, but currently, the most common method of measuring blood loss is simple visual estimation, which is often inaccurate. To solve this problem, we plan to develop a safe, easy-to-use, and low cost system that will accurately estimate the volume of blood that the woman has lost. This will allow health care workers in both low-resource settings and in industrialized nations to identify postpartum hemorrhage and therefore properly treat the condition.
Design Summary
The SAPHE Pad uniformly absorbs blood loss in an easy-to-understand pattern. The pad is rectangular and divided into a staggered grid of 3-inch squares. Each square in the grid contains a fixed amount of super absorbent polymer (SAP, also used in diapers), which will absorb 50 mL of blood. Between delivering her baby and delivering the placenta, the mother will lie or sit on the pad, so that the blood lost will be collected on the pad. The practitioner will count the saturated squares and partially-saturated squares to estimate the total volume of blood loss. If the woman loses more than 500 mL, the threshold for hemorrhage, the birth attendant will be alerted for the need for treatment or transfer to a higher level facility

Our most recent prototype predicted blood loss within 100 ml of actual blood loss. Research indicates that this level of error is acceptable because it will not put the diag-nosis of the mother at risk. We conducted a survey to compare blood loss measurement using the SAPHE Pad with unguided visual estimation on an absorbent pad. Participants were significantly more accurate in estimating blood loss with the SAPHE Pad (p=.07) and estimated within 100 mL of actual blood loss 70% of the time. The SAPHE Pad was also rated as significantly easi-er to use (p< .001).

Current Status
We will be seeking birth attendant and patient feedback in Botswana, Malawi, and Lesotho this summer and soon will begin clinical testing in the Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. We have filed for a provisional patent and are currently seeking a manufacturer and licensee for the SAPHE Pad.

Last updated: May 1st, 2012
Beyond Traditional Borders (HHMI)
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  • Global Health Technologies
Faculty Advisor 1 - Name
Maria Oden
Faculty Advisor 2 - Name
Rebecca Richards-Kortum

Team Members

Award(s) and Recognition
Rice University Engineering Competition 2012: Award for Best Global Health Technology

Contact us

Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen
Rice University

6100 Main Street MS 390 | Houston, Texas | 77005

Phone: 713.348.OEDK


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