A team of researchers has created a blood-sampling robot that includes an ultrasound image-guided robot that draws blood from veins. A fully integrated device — which includes a module that handles samples and a centrifuge-based blood analyzer — could be used at bedsides and in ambulances, emergency rooms, clinics, doctors’ offices, and hospitals.
Venipuncture — which involves inserting a needle into a vein to get a blood sample or perform IV therapy — is the world’s most common clinical procedure, with more than 1.4 billion performed yearly in the United States. But clinicians fail in 27% of patients without visible veins, 40% of patients without palpable veins, and 60% of emaciated patients, according to previous studies.
Repeated failures to start an IV line boost the likelihood of phlebitis, thrombosis, and infections, and may require targeting large veins in the body or arteries - at much greater cost and risk. As a result, venipuncture is among the leading causes of injury to patients and clinicians. Moreover, a hard time accessing veins can increase procedure time by up to an hour, requires more staff, and costs more than $4 billion a year in the United States, according to estimates.
The automated device could help clinicians get blood samples quickly, safely, and reliably, preventing unnecessary complications and pain in patients from multiple needle insertion attempts. In the future, the device could be used in such procedures as IV catheterization, central venous access, dialysis, and placing arterial lines.
The device performed as well or better than people, according to the first human clinical trial of the automated blood drawing and testing device. The results were comparable to or exceeded clinical standards, with an overall success rate of 87% for the 31 participants whose blood was drawn. For the 25 people whose veins were easy to access, the success rate was 97%.
Next steps include refining the device to improve success rates in patients with veins difficult to access.