"Save My Veins" campaign starts at Kingston General Hospital

News / Patient Care
By John Pereira

Bracelets part of education initiative to support renal patients

Patients here at Kingston General Hospital may begin to see some new purple bracelets around the hospital. They are part of an educational initiative taking place in partnership with the Ontario Renal Network. It's called "Save My Veins."

The purple bracelets have a similar look and feel to the yellow bracelets used to promote cancer awareness. They will provide health care workers with a visual cue, to remind them when working with a patient who has kidney disease to avoid using the veins in the patient's arms to take blood or insert an IV.

"We need to preserve those important veins in our patient's arms for dialysis because they provide the best access to the bloodstream," says Registered Nurse Sandra Belanger, who is responsible for rolling out the program. "Veins can begin to deteriorate if used too often and we want to make sure those veins can be used for care in the future."

Now, staff are being encouraged to use veins in the patient's hands instead when they see the purple bracelet.

Belanger and her colleagues have already begun to hand out the bracelets and educate patients as they come to the hospital for appointments and clinics. They will also begin to visit staff in clinical areas and departments in the hospital to talk about the program. Posters will be placed in certain key locations at KGH and the Phlebotomy team is already following the "Save My Veins" guidelines.

"We've really decided to take a proactive approach with this program. In the past, certain hemodialysis patients had signs placed above their beds to make staff aware, but we want to apply this message to all kidney patients. It really is a preventative approach," says Belanger.

A study done on a similar program in the United States found that patients who wore the bracelets were more likely to have their arm veins remain usable for future treatment. In addition, they found that the bracelets also prevented damage from unexpected ER visits, blood draws, and incidents when patients were unable to communicate with their health care provider if they are unconscious.

If you are interested in learning more about the program, check out the "Save my Veins" website.