Date: 10/16/2008

VeinViewer makes drawing blood easier

VeinViewer uses invisible, near-infrared light technologies to identify and locate veins, projecting their location directly onto the surface of the skin.

For patients who dread coming to the hospital and having blood drawn, there is hope.

The three hospitals of the Community Healthcare System are introducing new technology that will make it easier to detect veins for the purpose of drawing blood and inserting IVs.

St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart recently unveiled this new technology, called VeinViewer, with introductions to follow this fall at Community Hospital in Munster and St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago.

The pain associated with drawing blood or inserting an IV is often caused by a needle misdirected into a vein. For a healthcare professional performing these procedures, it can be challenging to find the perfect angle, the perfect location to stick a needle in a patient’s vein. That challenge, however, is made easier by VeinViewer, diminishing the likelihood that a patient will endure multiple uncomfortable needle pricks to find a vein.

“We have had comments that we’ve got to find ways to draw blood rather than poking and poking at the patients,” said Ethel Urbi, Laboratory Operations Director for Community Healthcare System. “Well, we got it.”

VeinViewer projects invisible near-infrared light on skin, penetrating as deep as eight millimeters. Hemoglobin in the blood absorbs the light, while the rest is reflected back to the machine, which shows an image on the skin with the location of the veins. A phlebotomist or other clinician can map a patient’s vasculature regardless of age, body type or skin tone.

VeinViewer is particularly beneficial for children, whose veins often are difficult to detect. In a recent study, first-attempt success rate at finding a viable vein improved from 49 percent to 80 percent in children when using VeinViewer. The average number of attempts to find a vein for children dropped from 1.97 to 1.29 with VeinViewer.

“This technology will enhance the patient experience,” said John Gorski, Senior Vice President of Hospital Operations for the Community Healthcare System. “It is one more way we’re working to make healthcare less frightening and comfortable as possible for our patients.”