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Device makes it easier for nurses to find patients’ veins

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Chemotherapy does lifesaving work, but along the way, these powerful drugs can toughen veins, the pathway needed to deliver the medications to cancerous tumors.

That’s what happened to cancer patient Kenny Koehler of Westfield. Koehler, who has completed his drug therapy, was offered a vein viewer during his last visit.

Larissa Werling is a registered nurse at IU Health, and has used the vein viewer for about a year to light up the veins on patients at the Simon Cancer Center.

“We use the vein viewer to locate their veins underneath their skin to put in their IV or for an infusion site,” says Werling.

The vein viewer uses near infrared light to pick up red blood cells and veins beneath the skin. That picture is recorded and digitized; the image is reflected back. Nurses and technicians use that real-time image to guide them where to insert a needle.

“It’s just a light that shines on the skin,” says Werling. “And we are very busy and the sooner and the faster we move patients through, the sooner they can get on with their regular lives.”

The vein viewer is mobile and runs on batteries. There are different colors of near infrared lights for different skin tones. No radiation is used.

Most importantly for patients, they don't have to be stuck multiple times while nurses try to find a vein.

“My biggest fear when I come down here to get an IV is how many times it is going to take for them to stick me and actually get it to work," says Koehler. "And that thing, she did it in one shot. I’ve had to go through three or four sticks before.”

For more information on the vein viewer click here

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