Have you ever experienced the trauma of having a health provider search desperately for a vein in your arm?
Are you a phlebotomist intent on easing the process of blood draws for patients who have veins that are hard to find?
A group of local engineers might have an answer for you.... See more
They've designed a portable vein-locating device that can be held above a patient's arm, allowing the phlebotomist to see the exact spot where the best veins are located.
"It's designed primarily for people who may have difficulty giving blood," said Paul T. Gross, project manager for development engineering at Benchmark in Rochester.
The device has two infrared lights. When it is passed over a patient's arm, the veins appear as if they're showing up on X-ray, making the arm glow kind of like fingers do when a flashlight is passed underneath them. One light detects the vessels and the second produces a picture of the veins directly on the skin.
The locator device (brand-named "Accuvein" or "AV300") is designed for patients with veins that are difficult to locate because of smaller-than-normal size or tissue layers that obscure the veins.
"The AV300 is the world's first hand-held, non-contact vein finder that helps healthcare professional locate veins for blood draw, IV infusion and blood donation," says a statement from Benchmark announcing that the device won a Medical Design Excellence Award.
Accuvein was one of just 39 products that won an award in 2010, and one of only four that won in the category of "critical care and emergency medicineproducts."
The judges recognized bothAccuVein LLC of Cold Harbor, New York (the product's patent holder) as the award winner andgave special "supply and design credit" to Benchmark in Rochester (the product's designer).
How does the device know where your veins are located? Blood in the veins that's been depleted of oxygen by the body's normal function absorbs infrared light, Gross said.
Within "nanoseconds," the device, which was designed at Benchmark inRochester and is manufactured in Winona,turns on witha red laser "which is scanned, and that red laser reflects thatessentiallyback onto the arm," he said.
In the elderly, Gross saidfor example, "it's sometimes hard to find the veins." Also, patients who are obese might experience difficulty. And, said Mark Troutman, vice president of U.S. development and engineering for Benchmark, the simple fact is, "some people are just difficult to stick."
Another group of patients Benchmark designers hope to help includes infants. There's also an application that can be used to help train new phlebotomists.
Similar products already exist that are designed for use in the blood-draw area. But the Benchmark product is designed for use in a mobile setting, perhaps with a patient who is unable to leave a hospital room, or with people who stop at a blood center to donate.
"If a person is going, say, room to room in a hospital, a person can just set this in a pocket. ... It gives them the option to sort of be able to carry it with them," Gross said.
The product was designed with a specific purpose in mind. But Gross said he's sure a doctor might pick the device up and wonder if it could be used in, say, a surgical application.
For the time being, though, "it's a survey tool to find that best possible vein so they don't have to do multiple sticks," Gross said.