pediatrics: toward a better patient experience

Posted by Neoteryx on Feb 28, 2018 5:03:00 AM
Neoteryx

shutterstock_734893627.jpgChildren do not experience pain in quite the same way that adults do. They have an intense emotional reaction to most unpleasant sensory input. They don't like it, and they are very much afraid of it. Since they do not understand, and do not want to understand why they should go through a painful experience, they fight it. They kick. They scream. The episode is nerve wracking and upsetting for everyone.

Drawing blood is an example of the kind of painful experience that makes kids run for the door as soon as they see the white coats. But it doesn't have to be that way. Traditionally, blood for laboratory testing is drawn from a vein, usually in the arm. A long needle is used to draw the blood, once the vein is located. Locating the vein means probing around in the arm with the needle. Because of their subcutaneous fat, veins in children are difficult to find. Sometimes multiple sticks are required, which is very traumatic for the child.

The newest technology allows for microsampling. Instead of 10 or 20 ml of blood, 10 µl are collected painlessly in a capillary tube from a single drop of blood after a fingerstick.

What are the advantages of microsampling over venipuncture?

  • The procedure is markedly less painful and frightening than venipuncture, particularly for children and the elderly
  • Less blood is withdrawn from the child, decreasing the chances of anemia developing because of laboratory blood draws.
  • Microsampling does not require the skills that a laboratory technician must have to be successful at venipuncture.
  • There are fewer steps in processing the blood. The procedure is easier, and therefore, cheaper.
  • Because children tolerate the fingerstick much better, parents do not feel guilty about permitting the blood to be drawn. This means that more results are obtained, since the parents are much more likely to return for further blood work when needed.

Monitoring of blood sugars is one of the most common tests performed daily with microsampling, but definitely not the only one. Microsampling is used for testing blood levels of drugs such as antibiotics, anti-seizure medications, antidepressants, and psychiatric drugs to determine whether the level is therapeutic, as well as testing for genetic abnormalities, lead contamination, etc.

A child's experience as a patient can affect his or her whole life. Let's try to improve that experience by taking some of the pain and fear out of it.

graphic of a pdf - click to download the complete list of single analytes - panels extracted from Mitra

Topics: Clinical Diagnostics, Pediatrics, Alternative to Venipuncture