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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course The Story of Phlebotomy: A Historical Perspective. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Example of spring-loaded lancet

1600s Through 1800s

Changes in bloodletting over the next three centuries consisted primarily in refinement of instrumentation and procedures. Historical data points to the development of the spring lancet in Austria sometime during the early 18th century. Others have attributed its development to the German surgeon, Lorenz Heister in 1719. The blade was fixed into a small metal case and positioned so as to respond to a spring that could be released by either a lever or button located on the outside of the case. The spring mechanism eliminated the need for manual pressure when doing a venesection. The French and British were critical of the instrument and tended to prefer the single lancet. However, it was very popular in America to the extent that poems of tribute to the spring lancet were published in newspapers and medical journals.
Image adapted from image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons