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Health Team

Device makes finding veins easier

Posted October 10, 2011 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated October 10, 2011 6:16 p.m. EDT

— For people with smaller or hard to find veins, a trip to the doctor or hospital for blood work can leave them feeling like a pin cushion more than a patient.

Nurses and phlebotomists can have trouble finding a vein to draw blood from or establish an IV line, sometimes having to stick patients several times before finding just the right vein.

A third of all first attempts at vein punctures fail.

Daisy Brinkley, a heart patient at WakeMed Hospital, knows all too well what it’s like when nurses struggle to find a vein. Brinkley’s veins are smaller and not as close to the skin.

“Poke me up several times before they find the right vein,” Brinkley, of Littleton, said.

Thanks to a new device that helps technicians identify good veins, however, trips to the doctor for patients like Brinkley could become a lot more comfortable.

Accuvein, a small device, reveals dark shadows of veins and allows doctors and nurses find the best possible vein as opposed to just veins they can feel.

Matt Phillips, a phlebotomist at WakeMed, said the device is simple but very effective.

“It uses an infrared light and it detects the hemoglobin that’s in the blood,” he said.

Older technology required a dark room to see vein patterns, but with Accuvein technicians can see veins in any lighting with different skin types. It’s not used on all patients, but for those with hard to find veins it’s a major improvement.

For Brinkley, anything that makes trips to the doctor quicker and more painless is a plus.

“It was pretty easy,” she said. “I like it. I think it’s nice.”