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Comment: New robot does superior job sampling blood.

The results were comparable to or exceeded clinical standards, with an overall success rate of 87% for the 31 participants whose blood was drawn. For the 25 people whose veins were easy to access, the success rate was 97%. The device includes an ultrasound image-guided robot that draws blood from veins. A fully integrated device, which includes a module that handles samples and a centrifuge-based blood analyzer, could be used at bedsides and in ambulances, emergency rooms, clinics, doctors’ offices and hospitals.

Rutgers University. New robot does superior job sampling blood: First clinical trial of an automated blood drawing and testing device. ScienceDaily.

This is another example of the kinds of tasks that will increasingly be performed by machines. You can argue that certain patient populations (e.g. young children, patients with mental health issues, etc.) will always need a human being performing the technique for safety reasons. And this is likely to be true for a long time. But those situations account for only a minority of the venipunctures performed; the bulk of this work will soon be done by robots that are cheaper, faster and cause less damage than human clinical staff.

Nurses are unlikely to be replaced any time soon because their work includes so much more than drawing blood. But the tasks we expect them to perform are certainly going to change. How are health professions educators in the undergraduate curriculum working to get ahead of those changes?