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New equipment to help patients with hard-to-find veins

Vein finder equipment lighting up arm showing veins

Sarah Harvey, Lead Specialist Nurse for Rheumatology and colleague
Patients who visit the Rheumatology Outpatients Clinic at Derriford Hospital may experience a new piece of equipment, a vein finder.

This is thanks to a genourous group of patients who wanted to improve for people like them.

Anyone who has difficult veins will know the discomfort when there are failed attempts to locate a vein, such as when having blood taken.

Ruth Penrose, who has a condition called Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, attends the clinic every six months for intravenous infusions which make her condition better. However, her veins are hard to find and could take up to an hour and a half to cannulate, causing significant discomfort.

Ruth said: “It led me to want to raise funds for a machine that would help staff and patients alike. I was sat having an infusion when I wrote to Plymouth Hospitals Charity to explain that three out of the four patients in the clinic had a similar experience to mine.”

The Rheumatology infusion room infuses patients with a variety of rheumatic diseases, but some will have even more difficulty due to secondary Raynaud's Phenomenon and more rare diseases like Scleroderma. All of our patients receiving intravenous treatment will require regular infusions, cannulation and long-term condition management.

Now, thanks to Ruth, her friends and family, the team can quickly and easily find cannulate patients. Sarah Harvey, Lead Specialist Nurse for Rheumatology, said “We are really grateful to have received this which has significantly enhanced patient flow and patient experience in the infusion room.

Vein finder equipment lighting up arm showing veins “It reduces the time we need to attempt cannulation patients and how often we might need to cannulate them because of failed attempts, which can be quite distressing for some patients.

“It works by infrared, which can bounce back and show us visibility of the vein which you cannot do with the naked eye.

“We have got lots of patients now where we get the vein finder out straight away to use on them when we feel cannulation will be difficult as it makes their experience better. It magnifies the veins and makes them easier to see. We do however continue to do this without the equipment, to ensure our skills remain effective.”

Ruth thanked her family and friends for all their time, support and donations. By running raffles and a running community coffee hut in Plympton they raised £1000. Plymouth Hospitals Charity also donated £3500 to purchase the vein finder.

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