Please hold still: Veebot's robot system can find a vein and place a needle at least as well as a human can

Please hold still: Veebot's robot system can find a vein and place a needle at least as well as a human can

'You probably know the routine for drawing blood. A medical technician briefly wraps your arm in a tourniquet and looks your veins over, sometimes tapping gently with a gloved finger on your inner elbow. Then the med tech selects a target. Usually, but not always, she gets a decent vein on the first try; sometimes it takes a second (or third) stick. This procedure is fine for the typical blood test at a doctor's office, but for contract researchers it represents a significant logistics problem. In drug trials it’s not unusual to have to draw blood from dozens of people every hour or so throughout a day. These tests can add up to more than a hundred thousand blood draws a year for just one contract research company.'

Enter the Veebot, which "can correctly identify the best vein to target about 83 percent of the time, says Harris, which is about as good as a human."

'Harris estimates the market for his technology to be about US $9 billion, noting that “blood is drawn a billion times a year in the U.S. alone; IVs are started 250 million times.”'

More, including a video (if you can bear to watch...)

This could reduce the incidence of misleading blood count results. My highest ever LDH reading was after I let a trainee gain some experience on me - and the regular phlebotomist had to intervene.


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10 Replies

  • I'd be up for it for sure. The last time I had blood taken I feel sure the phlebotomist had been trained by the local darts team!

    It took 8 attempts including trying both hands and the visit was combined with a blood pressure check which had to be abandoned as I became more and more stressed.

    It's a real issue for many of us who don't have 'accessible veins'.

    My only concern with the Veebot is, does it stop immediately if it's hurting and you shout at it? My phlebotomist certainly did!


  • Newdawn, your last sentence really cracked me up!

    Ahh, that would be Mark-II model that would include the shout sensor, after the company does the analysis on why so many of their robots come back for servicing strangled with PVC tubing...

    Thankfully I'm blessed with good veins and provided I remember to drink plenty beforehand, I rarely have a problem. Mind, I was relieved when my haematologist dropped me back to tests every second month after weekly then monthly tests for the first 18 months from initial investigation and diagnosis. Blood draws have been even better now I've asked my phlebotomist to avoid the crease in my elbow. It's OK at the time, but always smarts for a few days afterwards. Good thing I'm not your typical Aussie beer drinker!

    Perhaps we should all share our techniques for making blood draws as quick and painless as possible?


  • Enter the Veebot, which "can correctly identify the best vein to target about 83 percent of the time, says Harris, which is about as good as a human."

    It doesn't suggest it's better than a human?

    Heart drugs keep my own veins harder to find, hospital phlebotomy and nurses who are frequent practitioners seem to cause me the least nuisance.

    A&E seems to be where I experience medics have the most difficulty and cause me most discomfort.

    Wonder if robots can learn from practice or if they have bad days?

  • I'm looking forward to the day when they don't need to get blood out of us at all - just put some supersensor thing over the top of a vein, and it sends various vibes into our blood and gets all the info necessary without breaking the skin.

  • Neil, there are some situations where a machine can't replace a human - especially in a nurse's uniform !! I'm lucky that my veins are good - even after many needles!

    If this inventor is at such a loose end to devise this machine - perhaps he could invent a better way of covering the needle hole after a test - the adhesive tape over a cotton wool ball should dissolve rather than give you a "wax-job" each time. (I guess the tape and cotton wool idea was invented by a lady - who did not think of a man's hairy arm! )

  • So do you belong to the quick yank school or the slow and steady school? (Sudden sharp pain or drawn out agony as each hair root gets yanked?)

    Here they either go for an adhesive tape that adheres well and can smart to remove if you can ever find an edge, or standard bandaids that I find often peel off inside my sleeve.

    Hey, we men can't complain. Most women love us hair and all and are prepared to use this hair removal technique on large swathes of their body to look good for us.

    Just spare a thought for Hairbear!


  • good job there's not that much hair in the crease of your arm or back of your hand.:-)

  • Guys,

    If there is going to be an option for analysising blood - I much prefer Paula's supasensor - after all an all encompassing medical sensor like this was shown on TV in the late nineteen sixties - surely 50 years on the medical sensor from the original starship Enterprise on Star Trek would be commercially available by now! Marty ( or am I showing my age!)

  • Is there an app yet ? ;-)

  • Now we have competition!

    You've got to feel empathy for Gordon McShean with his wriggling veins :(


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