Phlebotomy – drawing blood of a patient – has been practised for centuries and is still one of the most commonly used invasive procedures in medicine. Although the process seems simple enough, it actually carries some risks for both patients and health workers.
In fact, WHO has a 125-page guideline – summarising the ‘simple, but important steps’ which can make phlebotomy safe and can contribute to the proper quality of the specimen, prevent laboratory errors, and minimise patient or healthcare workers’ injuries.
Drawing blood from a healthy, young, well-hydrated patient is rarely a challenge to a professional. On the other hand, older, dehydrated patients with their sunken or collapsed veins might make even the most experienced phlebotomist sweat a little. And giving it a second, third, and fourth go is a stressful experience to both parties.
Here is where devices like the Aimvein Pro Vein Finder can shine. We recently got one of these and tested how it works.
What is in the box?
Besides the handheld, quite lightweight scanner itself, the box includes a user manual, a charger/power cable, a skin marker, a remote controller and a laminated card to standardise the device before use. As one of the commenters noted under our youtube video, some kind of mount would be useful allowing phlebotomists to have both hands free. It is a fair point, but we also have to note that we tested the portable version of the device.
Checking the company’s website, we saw that the handsfree solution exists. The slightly more expensive model (Pro 2.0 Plus) looks a bit like a table lamp with its adjustable stand. The third version, Go 2.0 with a mobile trolley has a hefty price tag, and looks like it is aimed for hospital use.
How does the vein finder work?
The vein scanner uses near-ultra red light to highlight blood vessels, the light is safe on the eyes.
I have to say, using it is pretty intuitive. After turning on the scanner, you can select from seven different light colours, making sure you get easy-to-read results regardless of the skin tone/skin colour of the patient. There are two image modes, normal and inverse. Standardisation is straightforward, as are the readings.
We tested the vein finder – without drawing blood of course – on every human being turning up at The Medical Futurist Headquarters in the past two weeks. It provided very clear visuals on everyone.
According to the specifications, the battery provides about 2.5 hours of use with one charge.
Costs and use cases
Vein scanners have been with us for a while, but their steep price prevented them from becoming mainstream. To be honest, this has not changed a lot. The tested device is slightly under $2,000 at the moment – maybe not entirely out of the question for a large hospital, but certainly not cheap. And this is the most affordable one from this product line. So strictly in financial terms, I believe we still have to wait a bit until these gadgets will be seen everywhere.
If you ask me who it is good for, that is an entirely different question. It would be useful in laboratories, inpatient wards, chronic wards and so on – healthcare is full of places and practices where phlebotomy is done on a daily basis. These practices often see many dehydrated or phlebotomy-wise challenging patients. As one device can be used by more professionals, the capacities of scanners can be utilised well.