Locked Out Of The Hospital

Are medical buying consortiums squelching innovation?

In 1993, Dallas engineer Thomas J. Shaw and his colleagues came up with a striking innovation. They designed a hypodermic that promised to slash the incidence of accidental needle pricks, which each year cause about 640,000 injuries among health-care workers. Safety-conscious hospitals, Shaw figured, surely would flock to his fledgling Retractable Technologies Inc., a closely held outfit in Little Elm, Tex.

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