Taking the sting out of needles
Born with only one kidney, Jacob Stash makes frequent trips to the hospital to be hooked up to IVs or have blood drawn for testing. And that equals out to a lot of sticks from needles for the 12-year-old from Marquette Heights.
"It is horrid," the cheerful Jacob said of having an IV needle inserted into his vein. "The first time it hurts, but the second time it hurts worse."
That familiar prick of pain was absent Thursday afternoon as he lay on a hospital bed at Methodist Medical Center.
Before drawing blood, a nurse placed a device shaped like a fat permanent marker against his skin and clicked a button at the top of the handheld tool. After sounding a loud pop, the device quickly numbed a small patch of Stash's skin.
"Whoa," he said watching the nurse insert a needle in his forearm. "It didn't hurt at all."
In an effort to make a trip to the hospital a little less painful for children, Methodist now offers its younger patients a single-use pain reliever, Zingo. The device's maker, Anesiva, estimates 18 million pediatric patients are stuck each year in U.S. hospitals to draw blood or begin IV drips.
Zingo works by blowing a quick blast of pressurized helium and lidocaine powder, a common local anesthetic, directly on the skin. The mixture is forced into the flesh, feeling like a breath of cold air when it comes into contact with the patient. Within minutes, the skin is anesthetized.
So far at Methodist, few doses have been administered, but nurses and patients alike said the needle-free tool is effective and easy to use. One use of Zingo costs roughly $30.
"The staff likes it because we actually have something that can possibly work to decrease the pain," said Kelly Knepp, the clinical education specialist for the emergency department at Methodist. "It's numb within about one to three minutes, and it lasts for up to 10 minutes."
In the past, the hospital applied a cream to dull sensation that took 30 minutes to an hour to work. Staff members also used an aerosol spray though it left the skin with a tingling, almost burning sensation and blanched the skin, making veins hard to find.
Hollie Cheatum, a nurse manager at the hospital's pediatric and women's health unit, said the short wait helps streamline a nurse's work. The device is also sterile, so nurses only have to disinfect the skin once before their incision.
"You can clean your sight, administer the Zingo and then you're ready to go," said Cheatum, adding nurses can still have a difficult time with younger patients who tend to squirm around needles regardless of pain levels.
The hospital began using the numbing device earlier this month on pediatric patients at the hospital and in the emergency room for drawing blood or inserting IVs. To date, Zingo is not approved to be used on adults or for injections, unless ordered otherwise by a doctor.
Besides comforting young patients, Ellie Volz, a nurse in the hospital's emergency department who teaches a course on emergency pediatric care, said Zingo also provides some piece of mind for parents.
"I think it's kind of a relief for the parents, because that's the last thing you want to do is bring your kid in here and have them be stuck and in pain."
Frank Radosevich II can be reached at (309) 686-3142 or firstname.lastname@example.org.