How to Draw Blood Safely

Amanda Thomas Jun 6, 2024
Red drop of blood on a nurses hand with a red background

Drawing blood might sound like a task better suited for a vampire, but in reality, it’s an essential skill for health care professionals, like creating nursing notes, that requires precision, practice, and a steady hand.

Knowing how to draw blood the right way is vital for client comfort and accurate diagnostic results.

In this step-by-step guide, we’ll cover the best practices for drawing blood safely, highlight why this skill is essential for every nurse, and provide detailed steps to perform the procedure correctly.

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  1. General Best Practices When Drawing Blood
  2. Why Every Nurse Needs to Know How to Draw Blood
  3. Steps on How to Draw Blood

General Best Practices When Drawing Blood

Ensuring a safe and successful blood draw involves adhering to several best practices. Here are seven general guidelines:

  1. Before drawing blood, always wash your hands thoroughly. Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  1. Make sure the client is well-rested and hydrated before the procedure. This will make it easier to locate a vein.
  1. Use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, gowns, and masks to protect yourself and the client from potential infections.
  1. Always dispose of needles and other sharps in a designated sharp container immediately after use.
  1. The order of draw is crucial in preventing cross-contamination between tubes with different additives. Follow the recommended order to ensure accurate test results.
  1. Properly labeling blood tubes with client information is critical in preventing errors and ensuring the proper identification of samples.
  1. Communicate clearly with the client throughout the procedure, providing reassurance and answering any questions they may have. This helps ease their anxiety and makes for a more successful blood draw experience.

Why Every Nurse Needs to Know How to Draw Blood

Drawing blood is a fundamental skill in nursing for five reasons:

  1. Blood transfusions: Nurses play a crucial role in blood transfusions. Proper blood collection ensures compatibility and safety during transfusions.
  1. Client trust: Proficiency in drawing blood builds trust and confidence in a nurse’s skills.
  1. Diagnostic accuracy: Blood tests are vital for helping health care providers (HCPs) diagnose conditions, monitor treatment effectiveness, and assess overall health.
  1. Efficiency in care: Skilled blood draws minimize client discomfort and reduce the likelihood of needing multiple attempts, leading to more efficient care.
  1. Medication administration: Nurses often draw blood to check medication levels, ensuring clients receive the correct dosage.

Steps on How to Draw Blood

Follow these steps to draw blood safely and effectively:

1. Prepare your equipment.

  • Gather all the necessary equipment, such as alcohol swabs, bandages, collection tubes, gloves, needles, and tourniquet.
  • Check expiration dates on tubes and needles.
  • Arrange everything within easy reach.

2. Prepare the client.

  • Always confirm the client’s identity using two unique identifiers, such as their name and date of birth, to prevent any errors in specimen collection.
  • Explain the procedure to the client, addressing any concerns they might have. Ensure they’re comfortable and have given their consent.
  • Make sure the client is comfortable with their arm extended and supported.

3. Select the venipuncture site and apply the tourniquet:

  • Apply the tourniquet 3-4 inches above the chosen puncture site. This helps dilate the veins and make them more visible.
  • Ask the client to make a fist without pumping.
  • Gently feel for a visible, palpable vein using your fingers. This is usually the median cubital vein in the antecubital fossa (inner elbow).

4. Clean the skin.

  • Cleanse the puncture site with an alcohol swab in a circular motion from the center outward.
  • Allow the site to air dry to prevent alcohol contamination of the blood sample.

5. Insert the needle.

  • Hold the needle at a 15–30-degree angle with the bevel up.
  • Insert the needle gently into the vein at a slight angle.
  • Once in the vein, attach the collection tube.

6. Collect the blood.

  • Once blood flows into the collection tube, adjust the angle slightly to ensure proper flow.
  • Fill the required tubes in the correct order of the draw.
  • Gently invert tubes with additives to mix the blood.

7. Remove the tourniquet and withdraw the needle.

  • Release the tourniquet once you establish blood flow.
  • Withdraw the needle smoothly once the collection is complete.
  • Immediately apply a clean gauze over the puncture site and ask the client to apply gentle pressure.

8. Label tubes and check the puncture site.

  • Label the blood tubes accurately with client information.
  • Check the puncture site for bleeding and apply a bandage if necessary.

9. Properly dispose of the needle.

10. Document the procedure.

  • Document the procedure in the client’s chart, noting any difficulties or reactions.
  • Record the date, time, and amount of blood collected.

Drawing blood safely is a vital skill that enhances your nursing practice and the quality of client care. By following these guidelines and steps, you can perform this procedure with confidence and competence.

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