May 6, 2024
Celebrating 75 years of Evolution and Impact: BD Vacutainer® Blood Collection Tubes

Blood collection is a vital procedure in clinical diagnostics and research, as it provides valuable information about the health status and biomarkers of patients and participants. However, blood collection is not without challenges, such as contamination, hemolysis, clotting, and infection. This year marks the 75th anniversary of BD Vacutainer® Blood Collection Tubes, which revolutionized the way blood is collected and processed.

The History of BD Vacutainer® Blood Collection Tubes

In the late 1940s, Joseph Kleiner witnessed his wife suffer from multiple and painful needlesticks to draw enough blood for the tests ordered by her physicians. She was terminally ill and the blood collection process was cumbersome and inefficient. Spillage of blood was common during the transfer from a syringe to a test tube, and each test (e.g., chemistry, hematology, coagulation) required a separate puncture of the vein. Kleiner, a mechanical engineer, decided to find a better way to collect and transport blood samples.

Kleiner was inspired by the evacuated glass tubes used by the military to collect and transport blood for transfusions during World War II. He realized that the same principle could be applied to blood collection for diagnostic purposes, and he developed a prototype of a closed system that used a vacuum to draw blood from a vein into a sterile tube. The system also allowed for the addition of additives, such as anticoagulants, preservatives, or stabilizers, to the tube to prevent blood from clotting or degrading. Kleiner filed a patent for his invention in 1947, and the first BD Vacutainer® Blood Collection Tubes were launched in 1949.

BD Vacutainer® tubes were an instant success, as they offered several advantages over the open methods of blood collection. They reduced the risk of contamination, infection, and needlestick injuries, as the blood was never exposed to the air or the operator. They also improved the accuracy and consistency of blood analysis, as the blood was collected in standardized volumes and conditions, and the additives were precisely formulated and pre-measured. Moreover, they simplified the workflow and logistics of blood collection and processing, by eliminating the need for multiple devices, transfers, and labels, and enabling direct transport and storage of blood samples in the same tube.

BD Vacutainer® tubes have undergone several innovations and improvements over the years, to meet the evolving needs and demands of the healthcare and research sectors. For example, BD introduced plastic tubes in 1961, which were lighter, safer, and more durable than glass tubes. BD also developed different types of tubes with various colors, sizes, and additives, to suit different types of blood tests and analyzers.

The Impact of BD Vacutainer® Evacuated Blood Collection System

The BD Vacutainer® Specimen Management portfolio has since expended to included blood collection sets, blood collection accessories, and urine collection solutions. In fact, 84 people every second have blood drawn using BD Vacutainer® products.

The emergence of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s highlighted the potential for disease transmission via blood, an occupational hazard for health care workers. In addition to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the Hepatitis B Virus and Hepatitis C Virus are common bloodborne pathogens that put health care workers at risk. The BD Hemogard™ Closure provides a secure closure designed to minimize contact with blood during handling and transport.

 BD Vacutainer® products also played a critical role during the COVID-19 pandemic when the increased demand for diagnostic testing put immense pressure on the supply of specimen collection products, underscoring the importance of collaboration across the health care ecosystem. BD worked closely with health care institutions, laboratories, regulatory bodies and governments to address supply challenges. FDA emergency authorizations allowed for the use of additional BD Vacutainer® tubes to help ensure uninterrupted blood draws for critical patient care.

Innovating the next phase of blood collection

While traditional venipuncture continues to be the primary means of blood collection using BD Vacutainer® products, BD has put its 75 years of experience and expertise to bear in developing the next option in blood collection, the BD MiniDraw™ Capillary Blood Collection System.

A minimally invasive and convenient alternative to traditional venous blood draws, BD MiniDraw™ provides laboratory-quality results from a simple fingerstick. Designed for use by health care professionals in various settings, such as pharmacies, clinics or doctors' offices, with or without prior phlebotomy experience, the solution requires a lancet, and includes a finger sleeve and a capillary blood collection tube, which contains an additive that stabilizes the blood sample and preserves its integrity. The system is easy to use and requires only a few steps: cleaning then lancing the finger, collecting the blood in the tube, and mixing the sample.

The BD MiniDraw™ system has received 510(k) clearances from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for several common blood tests, such as lipid panel, selected chemistry tests, and hemoglobin and hematocrit (H&H) testing. These tests are among the most frequently ordered by physicians and can help diagnose and monitor various chronic conditions, such as hypertension or high cholesterol.

Building on tradition to support patient needs today and tomorrow

BD Vacutainer® is a remarkable example of how a simple idea can transform an entire industry and improve the lives of millions of people. BD Vacutainer® tubes revolutionized blood collection by providing a closed system that helps ensure the quality, safety, and efficiency of blood sampling. Innovation can stem from many sources, whether personal challenges like those that inspired BD Vacutainer® tubes or societal needs such as making blood collection more easily accessible. But the beating heart of innovation in blood collection remains constant: ensuring that patients and clinicians are able to get the samples needed in the most effective and efficient way possible to facilitate timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment.


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