The ability of the robot to efficiently collect blood samples and give highly correct results prevents deadly infections caused due to improper blood drawing techniques. At the same time, the device makes it useful for healthcare workers to devote more time to a patient’s needs.
A prototype of an automated blood drawing and testing device. (Image credit: https://news.rutgers.edu)
The future of robots seems to have finally arrived. It had been evident for quite some time, given the rapid advances made in AI. Now, their presence is in almost all sectors, be it manufacturing, telecommunications, defence, education and many more.
Amongst all these, the health sector is one where the impact of robotics technology is set to aid the entire population, consisting of both patients and healthcare workers.
In order to further contribute towards this development, a team of scientists from Rutgers University has created a blood-sampling robot that performs automated blood testing with precision, analyses it and provides quick results. Since healthcare workers are very busy people, tending to a patient’s immediate needs, this device can allow them to entirely focus on such tasks without worrying about the lab technicians mixing up or spoiling the blood sample results.
Portable and handles results with care
The device consists of a robot that operates using images generated by ultrasound technology for extracting blood from veins. This robot further comprises of units for safely handling the extracted blood sample and analyse it using a centrifuge-based blood analyser for offering accurate results.
The robot is mobile and could be easily placed near hospital bedsides, in ambulances, emergency rooms, small clinics and in a doctor’s office.
Task accompanied by serious failures
Intravenous (IV) therapy and Venipuncture, in which a clinical needle is inserted into a patient’s vein to get a blood sample, are common medical procedures carried out by medical professionals around the world. Although the method looks easy, it requires pinpoint precision to locate the correct nerve.
According to previously conducted studies, 27 per cent of patients with non-visible veins, 40 per cent of patients with intangible veins and 60 per cent of severely weak patients became subjected to a clinician’s misjudgement while trying to detect a vein for blood extraction.
Such repeated failures increase the risk of acquiring infections, which can cause vein inflammation (phlebitis) and blood clot inside a vein (thrombosis). Moreover, this can further increase the time and costs involved in diagnosing the already present ailment.
Successfully alleviating such failures
However, with the help of the blood-sampling robot, the task of drawing out blood for medical purposes can be made error-free. To test the above claim, blood samples were taken from 31 participants. And the result was highly encouraging. An overall success rate of 87 per cent was obtained for all of those people. This percentage went up higher to 97 per cent amongst people whose veins were easy to access.
“A device like ours could help clinicians get blood samples quickly, safely and reliably, preventing unnecessary complications and pain in patients from multiple needle insertion attempts,” said lead author Josh Leipheimer, a biomedical engineering doctoral student in the School of Engineering at Rutgers University.
Besides blood sampling, the device can find uses in procedures such as IV catheterisation, central venous access, dialysis and placing arterial lines.
Steps are being undertaken to improve the device so that success rates in patients with difficult-to-access veins, goes up even higher. Data from this study will be used to enhance artificial intelligence in the robot to improve its performance.