By James Tran, Vizient Senior Category Manager, Capital
Vein viewers, also known as vein finders or vein locators, are medical devices that use near-infrared (NIR) technology to help healthcare providers locate veins in patients. These devices are beneficial for patients with difficult-to-find veins, such as those with obesity, dark skin, or a history of intravenous drug use.
According to research in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, difficult venous access in highly complex patients may have serious consequences. Patient pain and overall suffering are increased by repeated attempts to obtain venous access, which in many cases lead to the insertion of catheters in inappropriate locations such as flexion areas or lower limbs, in turn increasing the risk of subsequent complications. Difficult access can also delay medication administration and increase the use of materials, nurse time, and costs associated with complications and length of hospital stay.
Vein viewers can reduce these risks by lowering the discomfort and pain associated with multiple attempts at finding a vein and the risk of complications such as hematoma or infection. For healthcare providers, vein viewers can improve the accuracy and speed of vein location, reducing the need for repeat attempts or more invasive procedures.
How do vein viewers work?
Vein viewers project near-infrared (NIR) light onto the patient's skin, which the blood in the veins absorbs. The device then uses a sensor to detect the reflected light, creating a real-time image of the veins beneath the skin. This image can help healthcare providers quickly and easily locate veins for procedures such as blood draws, intravenous (IV) catheter placement, and phlebotomy.
What are the types of vein viewers?
Several types of vein viewers are available, each with unique features and benefits. Some of the most common types of vein viewers include:
Handheld vein viewers: These devices are small, portable, and easy to use. They are often used in emergency or outpatient settings, where quick and accurate vein location is critical.
Tabletop vein viewers: These devices are larger and more powerful than handheld devices and are often used in hospitals or clinical settings. They can provide a more detailed image of the veins, which is helpful for complex procedures or patients with multiple comorbidities.
Wearable vein viewers: These devices are worn on the healthcare provider's head or arm, allowing for hands-free operation. They are beneficial for procedures that require both hands, such as inserting a central venous catheter.
How do you ensure the safe use of vein viewers?
Following proper safety protocols to prevent infection and other complications is essential when using vein viewers. This includes ensuring that the device is appropriately sterilized or cleaned between uses and that healthcare providers are adequately trained on the use of the device.
Vein viewers are essential for healthcare providers to locate patients' veins. By choosing the right type of device for the patient's needs, following proper safety protocols, and providing adequate training and support to healthcare providers, healthcare facilities can help to ensure that vein location procedures are safe, effective, and comfortable for patients.
About the author
James Tran is a senior category manager on the medical capital equipment team under the capital equipment solutions domain where he works closely with suppliers in hospital beds, stretchers, safe patient handling equipment, exam room equipment, and other various medical capital equipment categories including the rental of hospital beds and medical equipment. Before working at Vizient, Tran served eight years in the U.S. Navy as a combat medic and aerospace medicine technician, and also worked for Baylor University Medical Center, Health Texas Provider Network, and as a health administrator for a DFW-based medical practice that served the metroplex. He has a Master of Science in health administration and clinical practice management from Texas Tech University.