Tools & Technologies

Velano Vascular’s PIVO (below)
allows medical staff to use
indwelling peripheral IV lines to
draw blood, potentially eliminating
voluminous needle sticks during
lengthy hospital stays.
By Drew Harnish

PIVO takes the stick out of hospital blood draws

When it comes to hospital visits, blood draws are common practice.

In intensive care environments, patients can experience two to three blood draws per day over a four-day stay. Compound that with the fact that more than 50 percent of patients experience more than one attempt to collect a sample when the draw is done by venipuncture.

With this many draws, there is also increased likelihood of hemolysis in one of the samples, which makes it unusable and requires yet another draw. That estimate is somewhere between eight and 24 needle opportunities in a given ICU visit.

These invasive procedures are a sticking point for many patients who often feel mental discomfort in addition to the physical pain associated with needles. Though seemingly routine, the techniques for drawing blood have changed little over the years.

If only there was an alternative to alleviate patient anxiety by eliminating the use of needles while also improving the reliability of samples. Enter the PIVO from Velano Vascular, a revolutionary product that enables consistent blood draws from indwelling peripheral (e.g., arm) IV lines. In addition to reducing hospitals' reliance on repeat needle sticks or central line (e.g., neck or chest) catheters, the PIVO is also a compassionate alternative for patients in critical care environments that require frequent blood draws.

In fact, for its innovative approach, Velano Vascular received the ABBY Platinum Award at the Adaptive Business Leaders (ABL) Innovations in Healthcare event in 2017. The company has plans for a family of vascular access devices to build on the success of its first commercially available, FDA-cleared solution.

From a hospital safety standpoint, PIVO reduces the risk of accidental needlesticks among healthcare workers – a number that is estimated at more than 1,000 injuries daily, according to a 2008 study.

As an alternative to needles, central line catheters are sometimes used in cases where frequent blood draws are expected. Though efficient, this approach introduces the patients' risk of a central line associated blood stream infection and can cost hospitals a significant sum of money for each instance.

Let's also think about the industrial and systems engineering principles that the PIVO represents. One immediate impact is the reduction in defects (extra sticks) when drawing blood. Since the PIVO utilizes existing peripheral IV lines, the use of needles is eliminated entirely. This leads to a more repeatable process, faster cycle time in blood draws and increased sample quality for timely diagnosis.

Taking it to another level, a reduction in needle sticks has been shown to increase patient satisfaction scores. In a world where hospital funding is driven in part by patient satisfaction scores, investing in solutions like PIVO has the potential to actually drive increases in operating budgets.

The next time you get stuck in the hospital, consider asking to use the PIVO instead of the conventional needle-based blood draw.

Drew Harnish is a project engineer at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. and is a member of IISE's Young Professionals group.