Another Way to Draw Blood

Jun 4, 2014

Credit Photo: Dan Addison/University of Virginia

People who spend much time in an American hospital may begin to feel like they’re surrounded by vampires. 

Blood testing is a key part of modern medicine, and patients may be subject to dozens of needle sticks over the course of a week.  Now, a device developed by students at the University of Virginia could change all that. 

UVA holds an annual competition for young entrepreneurs.  It’s called the E-CUP, and in 2012 three students from the engineering school took second place with a two-part device for drawing blood.  It consists of a port, inserted just once into a vein.

“There’s a special valve in it that prevents clotting, and this temporary port really just creates a pathway, and then whenever a blood sample is needed, there’s a separate, disposable part which is basically like a dull needle which doesn’t need to be sharp, because it doesn’t need to be sharp to puncture the skin, that goes through this port directly into the vein to grab a blood sample.”

That’s Peter Neems, a recent graduate from the Darden School of Business at UVA.  He was thrilled to partner with the second place winners to create a company that will soon start testing what they called the HemoDrop.  It could save nurses lots of time, and spare patients lots of pain.  But why not use a standard IV to do the job?  Neems says they can easily be blocked by blood clots.

“And those IVs are very important and essential in hospitals if emergency drugs need to be administered.  You don’t want to ruin the chances because you were drawing blood through that line.”

So hospitals sometimes insert a central line right above the heart.

“That’s considered kind of gold standard, because you don’t have to stick patients to draw blood that way, however there’s a whole host of different, very serious clinical risks that go along with drawing blood in that way – infection, anemia, sample contamination and misdiagnosis.”

Neems says the Hemodrop poses none of those risks. While the other inventors have gone on to jobs or graduate school, Neems is holding down the fort at their company called ProVazo – hoping to begin testing the new device this fall and to have the first of two patents by year’s end. 

Credit Photo: Dan Addison/University of Virginia