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New technology helps local doctors with treating youth; Taking blood is easier

By Staff | Mar 25, 2008

Belonephobia is “needlephobia” or the fear of sharp objects.

According to a medical report on belonephobia, approximately 10 percent of the U.S. population has a phobia of needles. It can make treating nearly 20 million Americans extremely difficult for physicians.

While many adults are terrified of the prospect of having blood drawn because of needles, an even larger number of children have this fear.

To assist with injections regionally, the Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida recently acquired a new piece of technology that will help ease the process of drawing blood — the Vein Viewer manufactured by the Luminetx Corporation.

The viewer is part of Lee Memorial’s “Draw Blood Not Tears” campaign that has tried to make visiting the doctor less frightening for children. The device works by using infrared lighting to locate and identify veins somewhere in a child’s body. The veins are illuminated by clinicians to be able to draw blood or to start intravenous therapy.

According to Dr. John Iacuone, director of the Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, fear over injections is the number one fear of children and their parents.

“It can be a traumatic experience,” said Iacuone. “The Vein Viewer helps us to find the child’s vein almost always on the first try, making procedures less painful for children and parents.”

He explained that sometimes veins can be difficult to locate, especially in children who have smaller veins that are not easily identified. Before devices such as the viewer helped to quickly identify the vein and ease long drawn-out discomfort, a clinician’s only technique was to distract the child as they spent minutes trying to locate the vein.

M.J. Noone, nurses director of the pediatric intensive care unit at the Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, explained that the two $25,000 Vein Viewer machines have been very helpful to the staff in the Pediatrics Intensive Care Unit and Pediatrics Oncology Unit.

“Children who come in might need to get an IV or blood drawn, this reduces the number of needle sticks,” said Noone. “Ideally, you want to do one needle stick.”

The new viewers help to identify the veins that are more easily accessible. Before the viewer, she said, nurses had to feel across a patient’s arm or leg with their finger to locate the vein.

Patients with chronic illnesses also benefit from the viewer, she said. For some patients who receive regular injections, dialysis for example, they may find that the scarring on their veins makes it impossible to get another injection. Or if a patient has sickle cell anemia — a hereditary disease that causes red blood cells to clog in the vein easily — the viewer can assist with administering an IV.

“Mamas and babies are going to have less fears and less tears,” said Iacuone. “That’s what the Vein Viewer means.”