Would You Let The Veebot Robot Take Your Blood?

Would you salute your robot overlord if he was about to stick a needle in your vein?

Veebot is a particularly gory robot. He takes your blood—not like a circuit-board Nosferatu might—instead, Veebot's Mountain View-based creators are hoping he might head up the next generation of phlebotomists. The machine currently has an 83% accuracy rate and has to get to 90% before undergoing clinical trials, but as the firm points out, between a quarter and one-fifth of all blood tests fail at the first attempt, so Veebot is doing better than the average. Eww.

The problem of course lies in trypanophobia, or a phobia of needles—Wikipedia estimates that one in 10 Americans suffer from it. Never mind Bender performing brain surgery on you, having a robotic arm stick a needle in you is a far more emotive issue.

Medical robots are nothing new, and they are becoming more and more autonomous as medical tech continues to innovate at a fast pace. Earlier this year, the FDA approved the first human-interacting robots that will allow specialists to converse with, assess, and even diagnose patients remotely. But could you really allow an autonomous device to find the best vein in your arm, stick a needle in it and then give you a lollipop afterwards? I know I couldn't.

[Image: Flickr user David__Jones]

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  • Mark

    "But could you really allow an autonomous device to find the best vein in
    your arm, stick a needle in it and then give you a lollipop afterwards?"

    It won't bother me. I would probably trust the robot more than the human because of human errors happen too often.

  • Ashley C

    I can get a sample in 30 seconds from the time the patient sits in my chair to the time I take the needle out, and my accuracy rate is over 99%. I am not opposed to tech like this, but there are factors they may not take into account. Part of a successful blood draw is making a patient feel at ease. A blood pressure cuff and whirring robot noises might not do that. What about patients who need to lay down (about half of mine do)? What about patients who squirm and jerk at the last minute? What about children? I haven't met a child yet who would willingly sit and put their arm in that cuff. It is also not a good idea to just pull the needle out and let the blood pool on the arm a few seconds before applying pressure. A patient on blood thinners would have bled all down their arm in that amount of time. Some patients have an aversion to blood and wouldn't want to look long enough to apply pressure themselves, and half of them don't apply enough pressure. That video made the process look like longer than a minute. I'd get frustrated and just draw the blood myself. Plus, the robot uses butterfly needles - what lab is going to be okay with a butterfly assembly being used on ever single patient? They are not cost effective - I only use a butterfly about 10% of the time.

    Plus, people Phlebotomists are prettier/more handsome to look at!

  • greggebhardt

    In the end you will NOT be given a choice. Choice is no longer an option. The government will tell you what to do.

  • Ruger454

    Stick my arm into a machine and let it poke holes in me.  Does anyone remember "Box" from the movie "Logan's Run?"

  • Kitwench

    No dice.
    There are far too many complexities involved in correctly finding and assessing veins and managing this with a live patient?
    No Dice.
    Skilled medical care is best performed by HUMANS.

  • Bill Garber

    Pretty silly to invent a robot to take vials of blood, when what is already heading our way is a full blood panel form a single drop, filed in your digital medical record, printed out if needed, and the whole single-use device discarded as a bio-hazard ... Price?  Less than a soda on a McDonald's menu.

    IVs are another matter ... this device should do the trick before long.

  • Ed. Floden

    83% accuracy? If the techs at the local LifeSource were that good, I would still be donating blood. But once I got stuck five times (three in the left arm, two in the right) without the needle entering a vein, I stopped. My arms hurt for two days after that attempt.

  • kureelpa

    Noticed another thing here - the person doing the set up has gloves on, but not the person handling the Test tube with the blood in it.
    OSHA, anybody?

  • politicaljules

    I am willing to see how technology advances on this.  Medical science is advancing as fast as computing, and I think we might be doing ourselves a disservice if we did not look into it.

  • kureelpa

    Boy things in this line of work must have gone downhill over the last few years. Any Lab, or Hospital that I worked for wanted 100% success rate - not 90%. We prided ourselves on not missing a bleed, because people hate being stuck once - nevermind twice. I did 72 bleeds in 4 hours once & didn't miss one. Granted, only one, was extremely difficult. 
    I'd give the Robot a pass on it's current success rate & even at 90%. I think that the company is fudging the numbers to make it appear that the Robot isn't so bad. 

  • Ken G

    Given the number of bad sticks I've had over the years, if they can get it's accuracy up to 95% I'd almost certainly prefer it to a human phlebotomist. Think, less bruising afterward, you don't have to remind it to turn the canula upward before sticking you, you don't have to worry about sterile technique (as much)...bring on the robots, I say!

  • deathbyliberals

    last time i had blood drawn by a human she went through my vein and i ended up with a hard brown lump about half the size of golfball on my arm...sign me up