A butterfly needle, a winged infusion or scalp vein set, is a tiny needle designed for venipuncture. The needle has a small diameter attached to a thin, flexible tube designed to easily access veins to draw blood or administer IV medications and fluids. The needle owes its name because its plastic flaps on either side give it a winged appearance.
A butterfly needle is known for being thin, reaching hard-to-reach superficial veins, and lasting on the body for several days with minimal discomfort, making it a vital medical device widely used in laboratories and hospitals. However, there have been reports of its shortage since the pandemic across the U.S.
Why is this shortage, and how is it affecting the laboratories nationwide- we’ll discuss it in this article!
Shortage of Butterfly Needle Gauge Across the U.S.
The spike in the number of patients since the outburst of the pandemic caused a shortage of butterfly needle gauges. Why? Because butterfly needles were widely used to administer IV medication and fluids to millions of people, including children, adults, and the elderly, affected by the health crisis. In addition, COVID-19 also caused a prevalence of chronic diseases.
With more and more patients flooding the hospitals and laboratories, more butterfly needles have been used to draw blood for labs and give fluids and medications through veins. This caused a shortage of this device across the U.S. Many COVID patients with mild or severe symptoms needed IV fluids and medication infusions.
In addition, COVID-19 has caused a decline in the population’s overall health, causing a significant increase in the number of patients with chronic diseases who need long-term treatments. Many were hospitalized and needed intensive medical care, causing a significant increase in the use of butterfly needles, eventually causing a shortage.
And this shortage has also been observed in other medical devices, including syringes, blood specimen collection tubes, etc. A sharp spike in demand for these devices amid the pandemic resulted in supply disruption.
Butterfly needles and other medical supplies used for blood collection and administering medications are becoming scarce as their use has been more than usual in the past few years. The major reason is the manufacturing capacity, which is much lower than the demand for these devices.
The shortage can be a big challenge for the healthcare sector, and suppliers have already warned to limit the use of these devices. Otherwise, this shortage can halt many operations in laboratories and healthcare facilities.
What to Do?
To overcome the challenge of this shortage of butterfly needles and other medical supplies, FDA has published recommendations for healthcare professionals.
Healthcare providers must limit the use of these devices and dedicate them only to situations when needed. FDA calls for straight needles instead of butterfly needles. In addition, straight needles are more cost-effective, allowing multiple blood samples in a single shot.
Laboratories and medical facilities that want sufficient stocks of butterfly needles must seek private suppliers with more of these items in their inventory.
Phlebotomy Career Training is one of the medical institutes that realize the gravity of this issue and limit the use of butterfly needles only to venipunctures when it is required to access small veins.
Reach Out to the Phlebotomy Career Training Team to Enroll in a Medical Health Career of Your Choice!
Phlebotomy Career Training offers a wide range of medical career and certifications in-class and online and provides its students with a Virtual Simulation Kit (VSK) containing butterfly needles, straight needles, and different colored tubes, which they can use to practice venipunctures as much as they can and also meet the core clinical requirements of the course.
Register for your desired course today if you’re passionate about becoming a certified phlebotomist, IV technician, Medical Assistant, or more. Our graduates thrive in the medical field and have a high occupancy rate in top medical facilities nationwide.There are so many more choices to consider as you browse a wide range of courses available both online and in class in many different fields of healthcare. You can become a certified dialysis technician, a patient care technician, an electrocardiogram technician, or even a medical coding & billing professional.
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