By 2020, the World Health Organization wants every hospital and clinic to use only “smart syringes” that are designed so they can’t be used more than once, the organization announced today. The syringes would reduce the spread of deadly needle-borne diseases. In 2010, re-used needles accounted for 1.7 million new hepatitis B cases, tens of thousands of new HIV infections and hundreds of thousands of new hepatitis C infections, according to a recent WHO-sponsored study. That’s why the organization thinks smart syringes are worth it, even though they cost at least twice as much as traditional needles.
So how do smart syringes work? A quick search finds dozens of patents, dating from the 1980s onwards.