Venipuncture is the removal of blood from a vein in the arm, hand, wrist or ankle with a syringe, Vacutainer tube or winged infusion set. Infection at the injection site is rare, but you should know what to look for, how to avoid it and what steps to take if it occurs.
When you go to a hospital, lab or doctor's office and have blood drawn for testing, there should be very clean conditions. The equipment should be sterilized and surfaces cleaned with alcohol or a commercial medical cleaner. Every needle should come out of a sealed package and screwed on to a new flange, and all Vacutainers that are vacuum-sealed to draw blood should be checked for expiration date. If all this is done correctly, there should be no way for the procedure to cause an infection at the injection site.
If you look at the injection site and see a small raised bump that is dark bluish in color, this is not an infection, it is a hematoma. Sometimes when blood is drawn, the needle size might be too small or a vein starts to collapse a bit and blood rushes to the site and gathers where the needle was inserted. A hematoma is like a bruise and needs no further medical attention; it will go away on its own in a few days.
You may get bruising at the site of a needle injection. It can be very large, seeming to cover the entire inside of your elbow. It might be tender to the touch or even painful. But it is not an infection and it will go away on its own.
Redness, Swelling and Fever
Even with the best medical practices you can still contract an infection at the site of injection. Small particles of dirt or pathogens can get in and cause redness, swelling and fever. Make sure your phlebotomist cleans the area with alcohol before injection. If you do see redness and swelling at the site, first try topical antibacterial ointment. It's available over the counter at pharmacies and grocery stores. If you don't see improvement, or if you have a fever of over 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit or above, see a medical professional. You may need oral antibiotics or antibiotics by injection.
Avoiding Venipuncture Infections
Make sure the area where you are having your blood drawn is clean and sanitary. Ask your phlebotomist if she is using a new needle and to make sure the Vacutainers are not expired. Never accept a used needle, even if it has been cleaned or autoclaved. There is no contemporary medical need to reuse needles. After the blood draw, a band-aid should be applied; if not, ask for one. This will help prevent infection.
- Photo Credit "Trypanophobia" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: wstryder (Lauri Rantala) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.
Blood Staph Infections
Blood staph infections are a condition where the infection gets into the bloodstream. These infections are referred to as bacteremia and septicemia....
Why Veins Get Sore After Having Blood Drawn
Whether you are donating blood or getting blood tests, when cold, hard steel mixes with delicate inner tissues and veins, many things...
How to Have Your Blood Drawn
Whether it's for testing or your making a donation to save another person's life having your blood drawn isn't an easy task....
What Are the Common Sites for Venipuncture?
Venipuncture is the process of drawing blood from the veins. The procedure is commonly performed by phlebotomists, paramedics and other qualified medical...
Complications for Phlebotomy Procedures
Phlebotomy---the practice of taking samples of patients' blood and other body tissue for medical testing, research or blood-banking---is usually performed by a...
Complications in Venipuncture Collection
Venipuncture refers to drawing blood from a vein by means of a puncture. Performed by a trained professional known as a phlebotomist,...
Steps for Venipuncture
Venipuncture, or phlebotomy, is the process used for drawing blood. Since certain tests may require special collection methods, always follow your organizations...
Proper Venipuncture Techniques
Proper venipuncture techniques are imperative for accurate lab work and effective health care management. Lab draws are more than just the insertion...