Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Drawing Blood

First off, let me clarify that I have been posting with less frequency lately not because I see no problems with the world, but because my "capstone" (read: Senior) design project is the development of a new technology for prosthetic ankles, and it is a time suck. However, today I find myself on the train, with some time to kill.

My son goes to the hospital with regularity and thus so do I. One of the things he needs to get done frequently is have his blood drawn so that they can run tests. Being the small boy that he is, the nurses can have difficulty finding a vein. This leads them to poke him several times (heartbreaking), and when that doesn't work, they end up calling a "drawing blood" specialist. Keep in mind this isn't a backwater hospital with untrained people, this is Children's Hospital Boston, which I believe is ranked as the 2nd best Children's hospital in the country.

I don't know enough about the fine mechanics of drawing blood to be able to redesign it here, but the procedure of "tying-off" one's arm in order to get a vein to show seems barbaric. If there is currently a better design out there, why is it not being used by the nurses at Children's Boston?

If there is a device out there (which I am not sure of), I imagine the reason it does not get widespread use is that it has too much visible technology or is too intimidating to use properly. What is needed is a device that looks simple (even if the behind the scene technology is complex), has a short learning curve, and takes the "art" out of the science of drawing blood.

Chris Loughnane

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