ER Wait Time: 14 minutes | If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

WESLACO — While it may look like something out of a “Star Trek” film, nurses utilizing a specialized piece of equipment are aiming to improve the patient experience at Knapp Medical Center – one needle stick at a time.

With the AccuVein AV400 vein visualization system, the medical staff at Knapp is taking the guesswork out of searching for viable veins for intravenous needle insertions. According to information from the manufacturer, when held about seven inches above the skin, the AccuVein system utilizes an infrared laser light to show the position of veins, and works on both adults and children regardless of skin pigmentation.

Getting a needle insertion right the first time goes a long way to improving patient comfort and ultimately satisfaction, said Knapp Medical Center House Supervisor and Registered Nurse Joe Garcia.

“The AccuVein really helps with starting IVs,” said Garcia, who has been an RN for more than a decade. “As a nurse, finding a good vein is at least 90 percent of the battle. If you find a good vein, you’re practically done with the procedure. Even for patients who have good veins, it is nice to use the vein finder to confirm what we are seeing and feeling as nurses.”

Garcia said that most units at Knapp utilize the AccuVein system, but the vein finders see the most use in both the Emergency Room and the Intensive Care Unit, where critically ill or injured patients may require multiple IVs.

“Knapp’s ICU was the first unit at the hospital to receive one of the finders, because the patients there tend to need more IV accesses because they need multiple medications,” he said. “The same patient could need three or four IV accesses and nurses have to find different veins to run the medications through. It is also important to have a vein finder in the ER, because a large percentage of our emergency room patients need also need to receive IVs.”

Garcia said patients are often surprised by the futuristic-looking handheld scanner and are ultimately pleased by Knapp Medical Center’s commitment to providing a more comfortable patient experience.

“Every time I go into the room with one of the scanners, patients are really impressed and say things like, ‘Wow, the other hospitals don’t have this,’” he said. “Needle sticks are one of those things that tend to bother patients, and little things like the AccuVein really make a difference when it comes to providing a positive patient experience.”