How to Draw Blood From Hard-to-Hit Veins

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If you work as a nurse or phlebotomist, you've likely encountered patients who have hard-to-hit veins while drawing their blood. This can be trying for you and sometimes painful for the patient, who is getting stuck repeatedly while you're searching for that vein. Here are some steps to help you find that hard-to-hit vein when drawing blood.

  • Apply a tourniquet, such as a rubber strap tightly over the upper arm of the patient. Have the patient clench and unclench his hand several times.

  • Tap your fingers over the area to raise the vein. You may also apply a warm cloth to the arm, as this also will help draw out a vein.

  • Instruct the patient to hang both arms down to allow blood to flow more freely into the veins. Choose the arm that has the most pronounced veins. Often, one arm will have harder-to-hit veins than the other.

  • Allow the patient to perform a few push-ups or wrist curls to get more blood circulating into the veins in the arms.

  • Make sure you are inserting the needle correctly, with the point down and the hole in the needle facing up. This will allow the needle to more easily slip into the vein.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure the patient is hydrated. A dehydrated person will have hard to hit veins. More fluids helps the veins to fill and become more pronounced.
  • Practice makes perfect. Practice your technique for drawing blood from veins as often as you can (not necessarily by drawing blood but by practicing the methods).
  • Listen to your patient. She might have been through this procedure enough times to know which veins work best for her.
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