Engineers at Rutgers University have developed a robot that autonomously draws patient blood and immediately performs hematology analysis. Such technology may help to speed up patient care, free clinicians to do other tasks, and even reduce the number of failed IV starts.
The device was recently tested in a clinical trial for the first time and the results, published in journal Technology, showed that the robot is as good or better than trained phlebotomists at obtaining venous access.
Currently, clinicians can miss target veins in patients who lack visible veins and with veins that are not palpable. Trying the procedure repeatedly can lead to thrombosis, infections, and other maladies.
The new device uses ultrasound guidance to place the needle precisely into the vein. So much so that in the study, in 87% of all the volunteers blood was drawn successfully on the first try and for those who had easy to access veins the rate was an impressive 97%.
“A device like ours could help clinicians get blood samples quickly, safely and reliably, preventing unnecessary complications and pain in patients from multiple needle insertion attempts,” said lead study author Josh Leipheimer, a biomedical engineering doctoral student at Rutgers University–New Brunswick.
To get the new robot ready for commercialization, the researchers plan to spend more time improving how it targets challenging veins. Data from the just concluded trial will be used to train the algorithms that guide the needle.
Study in journal Technology: First-in-human evaluation of a hand-held automated venipuncture device for rapid venous blood draws