Easier Blood Draws

December 22, 2008 2:00:01 PM PST
ST. LOUIS (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- It's one of the bigger challenges for health care workers ? finding a good vein in hard-to-stick patients like children, the elderly or tiny babies. A new device is bringing less pain to the process with a glowing look below the skin.Four-year old Isaiah Parrish recovers from a lawnmower accident in a room filled with balloons, stuffed animals and well wishes. But it is this glowing beam of green that captivates him.

The light is much more than a distraction from the numerous needle sticks he's had to endure. It helps nurses see the angle of his veins and choose good ones.

"If we can pick a better vein, then hopefully we can get an I.V. or get a blood draw with less sticks," says Becky Chambers, R.N., with SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in St. Louis.

The device -- called a VeinViewer -- brings veins out of hiding by shining a green light on the skin -- revealing blood vessels as black lines.

"It uses what they call near-infrared light that reflects hemoglobin, which is blood, so that way you can see the veins and you're not seeing tendons or anything else," says Chambers.

Debbie Draper's son, Jacob, was born seven weeks premature. When he first came in, nurses had to stick him several times because he had tiny, flat veins.


"It's very trying on a mom's nerves to have to watch them keep sticking your baby to try and catch a vein," says Draper. The new device has meant fewer and more precise sticks.

While the device's primary role at hospitals is to spare patients from unnecessary pain -- health workers say it can save money by taking less time and using fewer materials.

The machines cost roughly $25,000 each. Unlike ultrasound, which also can be used to 'see' veins, the machine requires little training to operate.

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, which offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, click on: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.


For more information, please contact:

Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center
St. Louis, MO
http://www.cardinalglennon.com


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