Bull’s Eye

New Device Makes Finding Vein Easy on the First Try and Improves Customer Experience

We know, we know. Having a needle puncture your skin isn’t your idea of fun. You’re not alone.

But getting a shot or having your blood drawn is something most of us will likely experience from time to time, so it’s important that nurses, lab technicians and others in the medical community hit their target the first time. Because, one is enough

Patients defined as a “hard stick” – often children and the elderly because the veins in their arms are difficult to pinpoint – often must deal with multiple attempts. That makes a visit to the ER, lab or physician’s office a frustrating and sometimes painful experience.

At St. Luke Community Healthcare in Ronan, the likelihood of nurses or physicians missing the mark is dramatically reduced thanks to a $2,000 grant awarded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana to purchase an Accuvein Vein Finder AV400. The handheld device – not much bigger than a large ear of corn – allows St. Luke Emergency Room Supervisor Amy Lewis and her team to see a map of a patient’s peripheral veins on the skin’s surface. The bright-red digital road map assists with the goal of improving venipuncture and other vascular procedures.

The faster we can get a line, the faster everything is going to go, so this can be vital in an emergency situation."

The new unit replaced one that had broken and gives the St. Luke Community Healthcare staff a sense of calm and confidence.

“Having this has been very useful,” Lewis said, as she pulled the unit off its charging cart. “The faster we can get a line, the faster everything is going to go, so this can be vital in an emergency situation.”

While the Accuvein is housed in the emergency room, Lewis said it is used by staff throughout the hospital to improve the patient’s experience.

“It’s very useful for our nursing staff, and it’s good to have available,” she said. “Sometimes the floor comes over and grabs it when they have a ‘hard stick.’”

The unit is especially helpful with the elderly, young children and those with substance abuse issues, Lewis added.

According to Accuvein, venipuncture for IVs and blood draws is the most common invasive medical procedure. More than 2.7 million procedures are conducted every day in the United States, and one third of these attempts to access a vein fail the first time. Using an Accuvein can reduce pain, time at the hospital, and costs for patients.

Patients have appreciated the technology. Students love checking out the Accuvein when they have science fairs at local schools, too. But most importantly, it improves patient experiences throughout the hospital.

“I think having one serves our purposes quite well here,” she said. “We have 22 beds on the floor, too, and they are welcome to head over and use it. For the nurses, it adds a degree of calm, since there’s less stress when you can find the vein. We always have it charging, so it’s ready to go whenever it’s needed.”