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Understanding Nursing Procedure # 9: Blood Drawing

Sometimes even the best nurses need a refresher course on basic nursing procedures. If you're nervous about drawing blood from a patient, these step-by-step reminders and tips should help.

How to Draw Blood: The Process

Definite procedures must be followed by nurses when drawing blood. When it's time to take the sample, remember the following steps:

  1. Always identify your patient. If you are unsure, do not perform a blood draw.
  2. Double check all requirements and prepare for the draw. Listen to the patient while you do this--they might mention something relevant to the order.
  3. Apply the tourniquet 3-4 inches above the puncture site. Don't leave the tourniquet on for more than 2 minutes.
  4. Ask your patient to make a fist without pumping their hand. Choose the best vein you can find.
  5. Use an alcohol prep to clean the area and allow it to air-dry completely.
  6. Hold the patient's arm firmly, using your index finger and thumb to "pull" a bit on the skin and thus anchor the vein. Insert the needle quickly to prevent pain.
  7. Be aware of the proper order of collection. Start with the blood culture tube, follow with the coagulation tube, and then go to the non-additive tube. Your final draw should be the necessary additive tubes.
  8. As the last tube is drawing blood, remove the tourniquet.
  9. Pull out the needle and immediately apply a gauze pad and bandage.
  10. Label all the tubes, double-checking the order again for accuracy.

Tips to Make Drawing Blood Easier

Still nervous about the best blood drawing procedure? Consider these tips:

  • Don't look for the vein--feel for it instead. This makes it much easier to find.
  • No matter how nervous you are, the patient is even more so. Take the time to talk to them. A bit of pleasant conversation can calm both of you.
  • When you are feeling for a vein in the wrist, rotate the patient's hand in either direction. This moves the vein away from bone and tendon and prevents painful mistakes.
  • Ask your patient to take a deep breath before the stick. They should concentrate on the breathing rather than the nurse with the needle.

Fear-Free Nursing Procedure

Drawing blood is a simple procedure, but one that can cause pain for the patient if not done correctly. Take your time to review what you learned in nursing school, and pay attention to the tips from seasoned nurses. The more you know about drawing blood, the happier your patient should be.

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