A young inventor inspired to create more hygienic hospital furniture after being refused visits to his sick grandfather is in the running for a prestigious international award.
Paddy Mulcahy, 21, has been offered university support to develop the easy-clean U-neat unit which reduces the spread of potentially lethal infections from surface to person.
The all-in-one bedside table, locker and chairs has no corners, preventing the build-up of bacteria, and could dramatically cut the spread of health care acquired infections.
"The existing furniture is a breeding ground for bacteria," he said.
"Too often people admitted to hospitals contract further serious illnesses. Going to hospital shouldn't mean putting your health at greater risk."
U-neat has won the Irish leg of the 2012 James Dyson award and now goes up against inventions from 18 other countries for the international young inventor's prize.
Mr Mulcahy's research showed that more than 70% of the spread of infections in hospitals was believed to be surface-to-person transfer of bacteria and that most hospitals used cheap chip board units which were hard to clean and needed to be replaced every few years.
His design, made from Lego style plastic, could cost 200 euro to produce once a manufacturing line was in place. The unit is entirely curved, rotates 360 degrees, holds three chairs and has easy remove drawers.
Mr Mulcahy's inspiration was sparked by a visiting ban at a hospital hit by the winter vomiting bug where his grandad Paddy Bulfin was being treated.
He picked up on the issue in his final year of study at the University of Limerick where he has graduated with first class honours. He has been offered an eight month place at the university's Innovation Centre to develop the design.