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Vein Information and Courses from MediaLab, Inc.

These are the MediaLab courses that cover Vein and links to relevant pages within the course.

Learn more about laboratory continuing education for medical technologists to earn CE credit for AMT, ASCP, NCA, and state license renewal and recertification. Or get information about laboratory safety and compliance courses that deliver cost-effective OSHA safety training and continuing education to your laboratory's employees.



Cardiac Biomarkers (retired 12/6/2013)
Terminology Describing Ischemic Heart Disease and Heart Failure

Descriptions of cardiac biomarkers and their use require knowledge of several terms. These terms and their definitions follow.Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS) Includes all the ischemic events that can occur in the heart. These events range from angina (where there is no cell death or reversible cell injury) to an AMI with large areas of cell necrosis. A continuum of events that are involved in ACS is illustrated on the page that follows this glossary of terms.Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI) Commonly referred to as a heart attack. A sudden loss of circulating blood and oxygen that causes necrosis of myocardial tissue. It is most often caused by the narrowing of coronary arteries by atherosclerosis, a thrombus, or dislodged plaque material.Angina Chest pain caused by inadequate supply of oxygen to heart myocardium. It is synonymous with angina pectoris, pectoris meaning chest.Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Usually, a left ventricular dysfunction resulting from aging, hypertension, atherosclerosis or muscle damage from an AMI or repeated AMIs. In CHF, the heart is not able to effectively pump blood through its chambers and to the body. Fluid accumulates in the lungs and tissues causing edema because less blood leaves through the arteries than what entered the heart from the veins. Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) The tracings of the electrical current that passes through the myocardium. The heart contractions are stimulated by this current. In areas of myocyte necrosis, the current does not pass and the tracings display abnormal patterns.Infarction An area of tissue death that occurs due to lack of oxygen. Clogging of an artery will cause dead muscle tissue or infarction.IschemiaAn inadequate blood supply that decreases availability of oxygen. Atherosclerosis is the main cause of myocardial ischemia.

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Dermal Puncture and Capillary Blood Collection
Venous, Arterial, and Capillary Blood Specimens

Venous BloodVenous blood is deoxygenated blood that flows from tiny capillary blood vessels within the tissues into progressively larger veins to the right side of the heart. Venous blood is the specimen of choice for most routine laboratory tests. The blood is obtained by direct puncture to a vein, most often located in the antecubital area of the arm or the back (top) of the hand. At times, venous blood may be obtained using a vascular access device (VAD) such as a central venous pressure line or Hickmann Catheter or an IV start. Most laboratory reference ranges for blood analytes are based on venous blood.Arterial BloodDeoxygenated blood is pumped from the right side of the heart to the lungs where it takes up oxygen. The now oxygenated blood is pumped through the left side of the heart via arteries.The most common reason for collection of arterial blood is the evaluation of arterial blood gases. Arterial blood may be obtained directly from the artery (most commonly, the radial artery) by personnel who are trained to perform this procedure and are knowledgeable about the complications that could occur as a result of this procedure. Arterial blood may also be obtained from a vascular access device (VAD) inserted in an artery such as a femoral arterial line or Swan-Gantz catheter. Capillary BloodCapillary blood is obtained from capillary beds that consist of the smallest veins (venules) and arteries (arterioles) of the circulatory system. The venules and arterioles join together in capillary beds forming a mixture of venous and arterial blood. The specimen from a dermal puncture will therefore be a mixture of arterial and venous blood along with interstitial and intracellular fluids.Capillary blood is often the specimen of choice for infants, very young children, elderly patients with fragile veins, and severely burned patients. Point-of-care testing is often performed using a capillary blood specimen. Specimen Type Method of Collection Common Use Venous Direct puncture of vein by venipuncture; vascular access device Routine laboratory tests Arterial Direct puncture of artery; vascular access device Arterial blood gases Capillary Dermal puncture of fingertip or heel Infants and young children Elderly patients with fragile veins Severly burned patients Point-of-care testing

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Which of these patients may not be a candidate for capillary blood collection by dermal puncture?View Page

Detecting and Evaluating Coagulation Inhibitors and Factor Deficiencies (retired 5/27/2014)
Preanalytical Variables That Can Cause Falsely Elevated PT or aPTT Results

Improper collection of the blood specimen that is used for testing can cause false prolongation of PT or aPTT results. The following table covers several preanalytical variables that may affect PT or aPTT test results Preanalytical Variable Cause of False Elevation of PT and or aPTT Test Result Corrective Action Blood collection tube is inadequately filled. Improper ratio of blood to anticoagulant. Excess anticoagulant causes prolonged PT or aPTT result. Recollect specimen ensuring proper fill to achieve a blood to anticoagulant ratio of 9:1. Patient has a hematocrit level above 55% Improper ratio of blood to anticoagulant. Excess anticoagulant causes prolonged PT or aPTT result. Prepare a specimen collection tube that contains less anticoagulant. Refer to your laboratory's procedure for the proper amount of anticoagulant. Specimen is clotted. Coagulation factors have been activated; insufficient levels left in the plasma. PT and aPTT results will be affected. Recollect the specimen. Specimen collected from an arm with a heparin lock or from a heparinized vascular access device (VAD). Heparin contamination will prolong the aPTT. Collect the blood from a vein rather than a VAD. If blood must be drawn from the VAD, flush it first with 5 mL of saline, and discard the first 5 mL of blood before collecting the specimen. Patient is receiving heparin therapy. Heparin will prolong the aPTT If the patient is being evaluated for possible factor deficiencies or coagulation inhibitors, use a heparin digesting enzyme as a pretreatment before testing the PT or aPTT. .

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Which of the following may produce a falsely prolonged aPTT test result?View Page

Fundamentals of Hemostasis
Which of the following best represents the quantity of resultant bleed in order of smallest bleed to largest (assuming identical trauma)?View Page
Anticoagulation Therapy

Anticoagulant therapy is employed in a number of clinical situations, including: After an episode of thrombosis, such as deep venous thrombosis (DVT) in the veins of the legs, to prevent reoccurrence. Prophylactically after some surgeries, especially those involving vascular repair such as coronary bypass surgery to prevent clots from blocking newly formed vasculature. In heart valve and chamber disorders where there is an increased risk of thrombosis occurring.

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Hemolytic Disease of the Fetus and Newborn
Prenatal Treatment

Prenatal treatment of severe HDFN due to anti-D consists of in utero transfusions. Because of significant risks, transfusion is indicated only if fetal monitoring suggests significant hemolytic disease. 1. Intrauterine Transfusion (IUT)IUTs are done when fetal monitoring indicates severe HDFN and the fetus is too premature for early delivery. IUTs involve the intraperitoneal infusion of packed red cells. The success of the procedure depends on absorption of the red cells through the subdiaphragmatic lymphatic vessels of the fetus. 2. Intravenous transfusion (IVT)Because there may be erratic and inconsistent absorption of intrauterine transfusions in severely hydropic fetuses, IVTs were developed. IVTs involve transfusing donor RBC directly into the umbilical vein.

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Introduction to Bone Marrow
Which of the following statements are true for the blood vessel/sinus compartment of the bone marrow? (Choose ALL of the correct answers)View Page
Sinuses/Blood Vessels

Circulating blood enters the bone through the central artery which branches out into small arterioles. These arterioles are interspersed in the cords of hematopoietic tissue. The arterioles drain into venous sinuses (space or cavity). Sinuses have a basement membrane which is lined by endothelial cells within the sinus and surrounded by reticular (e.g. adventitial) cells on other side. Blood from several venous sinuses may combine in a collecting sinus which leads to a central vein. The venous sinuses alternate with hematopoietic cords in a spokelike pattern with the central vein as the core.

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Parasitology Question Bank - Review Mode (no CE)
The adult worms of which of the following parasites reside in human intestine?View Page

Phlebotomy
Discussion

A phlebotomist should never use an arm with restricted usage for the venipuncture. Even if no sign is posted, the patient may tell you not to use a particular arm for various reasons, i.e. previous mastectomy, history of phlebitis, active AV fistula, etc. Do not draw blood above an IV line. If blood is taken from a vein above an IV line it might be diluted by the IV fluid, which could cause incorrect test results. In this case, Bobby should choose a vein on the dorsum of Mrs. Grayson's hand, below the IV. A butterfly needle would facilitate drawing blood from these small hand veins.Relevant topics:Alternate sites, Sites to avoid, Signs, Arms to avoid

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Case

Bobby Jones, a phlebotomist at Georgetown Hospital, entered the room of Mrs. Mary Grayson with a physician's order to draw some blood work. After properly greeting Mrs. Grayson, identifying himself and checking her armband, Bobby prepared for the venipuncture. He suddenly notice a sign posted above the bed that read: "Restricted left arm usage. Previous mastectomy - Do no use left arm for venipuncture." Bobby set up his equipment to use her right arm and noticed an IV line in Mrs. Grayson's right arm positioned in a vein slightly above her wrist on the dorsum (top) of her forearm.

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Which site should Bobby choose for the venipuncture?View Page
Case

Julie Smith, a newly certified phlebotomist at Northlake Hospital, entered a patient's room on the third floor for a routine blood draw. The patient was an elderly woman who had very small fragile veins. Julie therefore decided to use a safety butterfly needle attached to a Vacutainer tube in order to draw the blood. When Julie was finished with the venipuncture, she detached the butterfly needle from the Vacutainer, and approached the Biohazard needle disposal box. She noticed that the disposal box was full , but decided to try to fit the butterfly into the box anyway. Holding the butterfly by the tubing, she tried to push the butterfly into the box. The needle suddenly recoiled and stuck Julie's finger. Julie left the patient's room in a panic and headed back to the lab to report the needle stick injury.

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Discussion

Insufficient blood volume may cause erroneous test results, and specimen rejection. When blood flow stops, it can mean several things:The bevel of the needle may be pressed against the wall of the blood vessel. If this is the case, moving the needle slightly may cause blood to begin flowing again.The vein may have collapsed due to the vacuum of the tube. If moving the needle slightly does not re-establish blood flow, you will have to recollect the patient.The needle may have gone all the way through the vein. Pulling the needle back slightly may cause blood to resume flowing. The tube you are using may have insufficient vacuum. Try another tube. Never vigorously probe the patient's arm with a needle. At the first sign of discomfort the needle should be withdrawn. The patient may then be redrawn be yourself or another phlebotomist.Relevant topics: Insufficient volume, Partial collection tubes, What if no blood flows

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Tourniquets

Tourniquets wrap around the arm to increase venous pressure, and fill the veins, so that they are easier to see, feel, and puncture. They can be made of latex, Velcro, or other material.

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Multiple draw needles with built-in safety features.

You will be required to use multiple draw needles with built-in Safety features. One example is the Puncture-Guard™ (BioPlexus) needle, which uses an internal blunt needle (detail above) that is activated with forward pressure on the final blood tube prior to withdrawal of the needle from the vein. Refer to your institution's and the manufacturer's procedure manuals before using these devices.

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Choosing a site

The median cubital vein is most commonly used. It is the middle of the bend of the arm (antecubital region).

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Patient clenches fist

After applying the tourniquet, you may ask the patient to make a fist to further distend the arm veins.

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Applying the tourniquet

Tie the tourniquet just above the elbow.The tourniquet should be tight enough to stop venous blood flow in the superficial arm veins.

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Choosing a site continued

If the median cubital vein is not accessible, try the: Cephalic vein, or the Basilic vein.

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Alternate Sites

If no veins are accessible on the arm, you may try the veins on the back of the hand.Use a much smaller needle for these hand veins.

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Hold vein in place

You may now hold the patients arm below the venipuncture site.Pull the skin below the vein to anchor it and keep it from rolling.

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Insert needle

With the needle bevel up, insert the needle into the vein.

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Blood won't flow

If you do not see blood flow, the tip of the needle:May not yet be within the vein.May have already passed through the vein.May have missed the vein entirely.May be pushed up against the inside wall of the vein.

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Butterfly needle - Butterfly needle collections

Butterfly needles (also known as a winged infusion set), are available in smaller gauges, and are used to draw venous blood from children, and adults with difficult veins.

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Butterfly needle - Angel WingTM safety butterfly

The Angel Wing™ (Monoject), is activated by sliding a stainless steel safety shield over the needle after withdrawal from the vein.The Angel Wing™ (Monoject), is activated by sliding a stainless steel safety shield over the needle after withdrawal from the vein.

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Syringe - Syringe blood collections

Syringes may be used to collect blood from patients having small or delicate veins that might be collapsed by the vacuum of the evacuated tube system.Syringes may also be used to collect blood culture specimens.

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Heelstick - Pediatric collection procedures: Introduction

Veins of small children and infants are too small for venipuncture;Safety Lancets are used to puncture the skin and collect capillary blood.Butterfly needles may be used to collect venous blood in older children.

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Bleeding time

Select a site on the inside of the forearm with no visible veins, scars or bruises, about 5 cm below the bend of the elbowNicking a vein will invalidate the result.

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Feel the vein

If you need to feel for a vein again, you must first prep your gloved finger tip with iodine to prevent contamination.

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Hematosis

A hematoma is a blood clot which forms within the body. It is caused by leakage of blood into the tissues from an injured vein . It will resolve spontaneously.Hematomas are caused by excessive needle trauma to a vein, for example, by a needle which passed entirely through a vein and came out the other side.Apply compression to help stabilize a hematoma.

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Blood should not be drawn from arms with IVs

Blood drawn from veins with intravenous lines (IVs) may be diluted by the IV fluids. Arms containing IVs should therefore not be used to draw blood specimens. If an arm with an IV line in place must be used for venipuncture, be sure to choose a site below the location of the IV, so that the specimen will not be diluted with IV fluids.

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What if no blood flows when the needle is in place?

The needle may not be in a vein. Try slightly manipulating the needle. If no blood flows, withdraw the needle and repeat the venipuncture. Never probe the patient's arm with the needle. The bevel of the needle may be compressed against the inside of the vein wall. Slightly manipulating the needle should result in blood flow. The needle may have passed entirely through the vein. Pull it back slightly, and blood should flow.

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Insufficient volume

Insufficient blood volume (short draws) within a collection tube containing anticoagulant will result in an incorrect ratio of blood to anticoagulant, and yield incorrect test results.Short draws can be caused by: A vein collapsing during phlebotomy.The needle coming out of the vein before the collection tube is full.Loss of collection tube vacuum before the tube is full. (Always keep extra tubes on hand.)

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What is phlebotomy?

Phlebotomy, also known as venipuncture, means collecting blood from veins.Phlebotomists, by definition, collect venous blood, but perform a variety of other important medical tasks as well.

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Circulation: venous portion

Deoxygenated (venous) blood flows from tiny capillary blood vessels within the tissues via progressively larger veins to the right side of the heart.Blood is routinely drawn from veins, but may also be drawn from arteries, or capillaries. Illustration this screen from LifeArt Collection 2000, with permission. © Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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Circulation: capillary portion

In the capillaries, oxygen and nutrients diffuse from the blood cells into the tissues. The deoxygenated blood then returns to the veins, completing the circulatory pathway. Illustration this screen from LifeArt Collection 2000, with permission. © Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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Anatomy & physiology: essential to phlebotomy

Since phlebotomy involves puncture of the skin (integumentary system) and veins, (A component of the cardiovascular system), a basic knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of these systems is essential. Knowledge of blood and its components is also important.

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Routine Venipuncture
What is Venipuncture?

Venipuncture is the collection of blood from a vein. The person having the responsibility for the performance of the venipuncture may be a phlebotomist who is a part of the laboratory staff, or he/she may be another health care professional that has been trained to perform this duty. In this course, we will refer to the person performing the venipuncture as the phlebotomist.

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Give Yourself a Chance

A key element for successful venipuncture is choosing the best vein. To determine the best vein, use both sight and touch. Remember -- the first vein found is not always the best vein. Take enough time to assess the vein before beginning the venipuncture procedure.

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Explore the Possibilities!

The antecubital area of the arm is usually the first choice for routine venipuncture. This area contains the three vessels primarily used by the phlebotomist to obtain venous blood specimens: the median cubital, the cephalic and the basilic veins.Although the veins located in the antecubital area should be considered first for vein selection, there are alternate sites available for venipuncture. These include the top of the hand, the side of the wrist, and the forearm. These sites should only be considered after determining that the veins of the antecubital area cannot be accessed or cannot be used. Vein Location Reason for Choice Placement Direction Median Cubital Mid antecubital fossa Vertical to diagonal Musculature assists in stabilizing vein; very often largest; ease of access Cephalic Thumb side of antecubital fossa Vertical Ease of access; few nerves and tendons in area Basilic Body side of antecubital fossa Vertical to diagonal More difficult to access; proximity of artery, nerves and tendons. Use this vein only as the final alternative.

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Which of the veins in the antecubital area should be considered only as a final alternative due to its proximity to an artery, nerves, and tendons?View Page
Preanalytic Errors

Preanalytical ErrorWhat is it?How does it happen?What is the result?HemolysisRed blood cells (RBCs) break and release contents of cell into plasma.Needle incorrectly positioned in vein; cells forced to squeeze through opening. Needle gauge too small; slow blood return into tube. Vigorous mixing or shaking of tube. Alcohol on skin that has not had sufficient time to dry. Some test results may be falsely elevated. (Potassium is especially affected by hemolysis.) Patient may have to be re-drawn. Clotted specimenClumped or clotted cells in specimen that requires anticoagulated or whole bloodInsufficient mixing of blood with anticoagulant in tube. Delay in mixing tube. Slow filling tube. Inaccurate test results for cell counts and clotting studies. Patient may have to be re-drawn. Tube filled to incorrect volumeToo little or too much blood in tube.Tube removed from needle too quickly. Vacuum in tube has been compromised due to use of tube past the expiration date (Results in a short fill). Manual fill of tube may lead to over-fill. Test results may be unreliable due to dilution errors. Patient may have to be re-drawn.

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Avoid Prolonged Tourniquet Time

A prolonged tourniquet time may lead to blood pooling at the venipuncture site, a condition called hemoconcentration. Hemoconcentration can cause falsely elevated results for glucose, potassium, and protein-based analytes such as cholesterol.Ideally, the tourniquet should be in place no longer than one minute to prevent hemoconcentration. If the phlebotomist takes longer than one minute to assess and locate vein of choice for venipuncture, it is best practice to release the tourniquet, assemble supplies and reapply tourniquet immediately before needle insertion.

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Ideally, a tourniquet should remain tightened for no longer than what amount of time before releasing it?View Page
Needles - What's the Point?

Needles that are used for venipuncture are available in a variety of lengths and diameters. The diameter of the needle is referred to as the needle gauge; the larger the diameter of the needle, the smaller the gauge number. The image on this page illustrates the relative gauges of needles that are available for venipuncture. Needles that are routinely used for venipuncture are available in 3/4 inch, 1 inch, and 1 1/2 inch lengths. The phlebotomist determines the gauge and length of the needle to use for a venipuncture after assessing the vein.

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Needles and Patient Safety

All needles are single use. That is, every needle is immediately discarded in a sharps container after one insertion. If you suspect that you inadvertently touched anything with the needle prior to inserting the needle into the patient's vein, the needle cannot be used. The safety device must be activated and the needle discarded.NEVER remove a needle from a patient and reinsert into another vein; this could put the patient at risk for infection.

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Blood Collection Systems and Devices

The phlebotomist has a choice of several blood collection systems. Three that are commonly used are discussed on the following pages. Evacuated Tube SystemThe primary choice for a routine venipuncture that will be performed on an adult or an older child is a blood collection system that consists of a holder (or adapter), a needle that is pointed on both ends, and evacuated blood collection tubes. One end of the needle will pierce the vein and the other end will pierce the stopper of the evacuated tube so that blood will flow into the tube to fill the vacuum. A safety device is required on either the holder or the needle to comply with current standards for needle safety. Two examples of needle holders equipped with safety devices are shown on this page.

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Syringe

The syringe and needle combination should be the last equipment option that is considered; it is not as safe a choice as the self-contained blood collection systems because it involves more manipulation. However, the phlebotomist may choose to use a syringe to prevent vein collapse if the phlebotomist thinks that the vein is too fragile to withstand the pressure exerted by the vacuum as it pulls blood into the collection tube. A transfer device aids in the safe transfer of blood from the syringe into blood collection tubes. During blood transfer, do not manually push plunger as this may cause hemolysis of the specimen.

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Winged Device

The winged device is another popular choice for the phlebotomist. This may be chosen for pediatric venipuncture, small delicate veins on adults (particularly geriatric patients), or hand veins. The device can be used with a needle holder and evacuated tube or a syringe. A needle safety device is incorporated into the design of the winged device to prevent needlestick injury.

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Tourniquets, Alcohol, and Gauze

A tourniquet is used by the phlebotomist to assess and determine the location of a suitable vein for venipuncture. Single-use, latex-free tourniquets are preferred but reusable tourniquets are acceptable. However, if the reusable tourniquet becomes contaminated with blood or body fluid, it must be discarded immediately to avoid the spread of harmful contaminants to other patients. Follow the guidelines established by your facility for cleaning reusable tourniquets.Proper application of a tourniquet will partially impede venous blood flow back toward the heart and cause the blood to temporarily pool in the vein so the vein is more prominent and the blood is more easily obtained. The tourniquet is applied three to four inches above the needle insertion point and should remain in place no longer than one minute to prevent hemoconcentration. If the tourniquet is used during preliminary vein selection, it is best to release the tourniquet after assessing the vein and while you are assembling your supplies. Reapply the tourniquet just before starting the venipuncture; it should then be released soon after the needle has been inserted into the vein and the blood flows into the first tube. If collecting multiple tubes, the tourniquet may remain in place until blood enters the last tube.

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Vein Palpation

A skilled phlebotomist relies more on touch or feel than on sight when determining a vein suitable for venipuncture. Palpation is used to assess the depth, width, direction and health (resilience) of a vein. Use the index or middle finger to palpate the vein following this procedure: Align your finger in the direction of the vein Press on top of the vein with enough pressure to depress the skin Keep your finger in contact with the skin so that you may feel the "bounce back" of a resilient, healthy vein. Assessing a vein by palpation before attempting a venipuncture increases the possibility of a successful venipuncture.The image on the following page illustrates the considerations for vein assessment.

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Assessing the Vein

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If a vein cannot be located in the antecubital area of the arm, the next best alternative for venipuncture is a vein in the ankle.View Page
Performing a Venipuncture on an Arm Containing an Intravenous Line

Blood that is drawn from a vein that has an intravenous (IV) line may be diluted by the IV fluid. This can ultimately affect the accuracy of the blood test results. Therefore, an arm containing an IV should not be used to draw blood specimens if it can be avoided. However, if there is no alternative and an arm with an IV line in place must be used for venipuncture, try to choose a site away from and below the location of the IV. Document that the venipuncture was performed distal to (below) an infusion site. If the only vein available is proximal to (above and near) the IV, these steps should be followed: Ask the patient's caregiver if the IV can be turned off for a short period of time. The IV should be discontinued for at least two minutes before the venipuncture. Apply the tourniquet between the IV site and the area of the venipuncture. Perform the venipuncture. Document that the venipuncture was performed proximal to an IV site and that the IV was discontinued for two minutes prior to specimen collection. Notify the patient's caregiver when the procedure is completed and be certain that she/he restarts the IV.

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When to Use Hand Veins to Obtain Blood

Sometimes the phlebotomist may decide that the antecubital area is not the best site for venipuncture. Reasons for this decision may include: Extensive bruising (hematomas) in the antecubital area Inability to "feel" a vein suitable for puncture Presence of an intravascular line (IV) or vascular access device Physical condition of the patientWhen the veins in the antecubital area cannot be used, the phlebotomist may choose to use a vein on the top of a hand. The veins in the hand are very near the surface and often very small and thin so the procedure must be performed carefully and cautiously. .

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Handle With Care

Equipment: To successfully enter a hand vein, the phlebotomist must choose equipment that will allow needle entry at a very small angle. A winged device with a small gauged needle of 3/4 inch length is most often used to obtain blood from a hand vein. A syringe is usually attached to the end of the tubing of this device. By using a syringe, the phlebotomist can control the amount of pressure on the vein and avoid vein collapse. Evacuated tubes may collapse a vein by exerting too much pressure on the delicate vein. If available, smaller tubes containing less vacuum may be used.Insertion angle: The angle at which the needle is inserted into a hand vein is smaller compared to the angle of needle insertion into veins of the antecubital area. When drawing from a hand, the needle should be inserted into the vein at approximately a 15 degree angle to allow easier access of the surface hand veins. By inserting the needle at this angle, the risk of the needle going "through" the vein and puncturing the bony structures underneath is reduced.

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Tips for Successful Venipuncture When Using Hand Veins

Hand position: When collecting blood from a hand vein, it is best practice to position the patient's hand slightly downward with the top of the hand facing you. The fingers of the patient's hand should be rolled underneath, forming a loose fist. Use your thumb to pull back gently on the surface of the skin, making the skin taut. The vein should be anchored adequately to proceed with venipuncture. The hand veins will be more prominent if the patient grips a pillow or a rolled up washcloth.Tourniquet Position: The tourniquet should always be applied 3 - 4 inches above the needle insertion point. Therefore, when assessing for a usable vein in a hand, apply the tourniquet 1 - 2 inches above the wrist. If the tourniquet is on longer than one minute, release and reapply prior to venipuncture to avoid hemoconcentration.Cautions:Choose a straight section of the hand vein-- avoid the "intersection" or "V" where a vein branches into another vein. This juncture may contain a valve and could be damaged if punctured. Only use the top of a hand or thumb-side of the wrist for puncture. Avoid the fingers or the underside of the wrist. This will prevent the inadvertent puncture of hidden arteries, tendons or nerves in the area.

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Where should the tourniquet be placed when assessing a vein in the hand as a venipuncture site?View Page
Venipuncture Procedure At a Glance

Required Step Description Step #1 Wash your hands. Clean your hands with soap and water or gel cleanser. Step #2 Positively identify patient using unique identifiers. Ask the patient to state his/her first and last name; if the patient is unable to give you this information, ask the patient's caregiver to confirm the patient's name. A second unique identifier must also be used. Step #3 Special test requirements Determine if the test to be obtained has any special requirements. For example, should the patient be fasting? Is this a timed test? If any requirements are not met, consult with the caregiver to determine a course of action. Step #4 Prepare the patient Explain the procedure to the patient and obtain cooperation. Usually the patient will extend an arm. (This is a form of implied consent.) Position the arm for venipuncture; support the arm on a firm surface; the arm should be in a downward position. Step #5 Site determination The patient can make a fist, but should not pump the hand open and closed. Apply tourniquet Palpate the vein. Release the tourniquet and assemble appropriate equipment. Step #6 Aseptic technique Wear gloves that have not been altered in any way. Cleanse site with approved disinfectant. Allow the disinfectant to air-dry to avoid hemolysis of the specimen and discomfort to the patient. Step #7 Specimen collection Re-apply tourniquet about 3-4 inches above puncture site, insert needle, bevel-side up, at about a 30° angle, and collect specimens. Remove needle and immediately activate the safety device. Mix specimens by gentle inversion 5-10 times. Step #8 Patient care Apply direct pressure to stop bleeding at puncture site; do not have patient bend arm as this may cause a hematoma to form. After about 2 minutes, check the puncture site to verify that bleeding has stopped. Apply bandage if appropriate. Thank the patient for his/her cooperation. Step #9 Specimen labeling Label specimen(s) in the presence of the patient including all the information that is required by your facility. Check the labeled tubes a second time against the patient's wristband to verify labeling accuracy. A professional phlebotomist follows the procedure in the same way for every venipuncture. This ensures that none of the vital steps are omitted. The phlebotomist who is consistent in performance and who concentrates fully to obtain a quality specimen is an indispensable part of the healthcare team.

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Specimen Collection Procedure

Following the approved order of draw, connect the first blood collection tube onto the needle by pushing the tube into the holder so that the tube stopper is pierced by the exposed end of the needle. Use the flanges of the holder to stabilize the needle while connecting the tube. After tube is filled completely, remove the tube, again using the flanges of the holder to stabilize the needle. Replace with the next tube and mix the removed tube immediately if it contains an additive. Release the tourniquet when blood enters the final tube. When the last tube is filled, pull it back off the needle before removing the needle from the vein. Remember: Fill tubes in correct order and to correct volume. If you suspect that a tube did not adequately fill, try another tube.

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Bobby Jones, a phlebotomist at Community Hospital, enters the room of Mrs. Mary Grayson with a physician's order for blood tests. After greeting Mrs. Grayson, identifying himself, and properly identifying the patient, using two methods of identification, Bobby prepares for the venipuncture.As he approaches the patient's bed, he notices a sign posted above the bed that reads: "Restricted left arm use. Do not use left arm for venipuncture." Bobby prepares to use the patient's right arm and notices an intravenous (IV) line in Mrs. Grayson's right arm positioned in a vein slightly above her wrist on the dorsum (top) of her forearm.Which site should Bobby choose for the venipuncture?View Page
A phlebotomist was collecting a STAT prothrombin time (PT) and complete blood count (CBC) on a patient when blood flow unexpectedly stopped. The lavender top tube being drawn at the time was less than one-third full. The light-blue top tube had already been drawn for the prothrombin time.Before resorting to a second venipuncture, which of the following procedures should be attempted in order to adequately fill the lavender top tube?View Page

Special Topics in Phlebotomy
Hematoma

A hematoma is another name for a bruise. A hematoma or bruise is a collection of blood beneath the skin. Hematomas are the most common adverse reaction to venipuncture. There are many factors that can contribute to the formation of a bruise. Venipuncture techniqueIf the phlebotomist pushes the needle too far into and through the vein, blood leaks out of that opening and into the surrounding tissue. The appearance of a blue or purple discoloration at the venipuncture site indicates the presence of a hematoma. This discoloration at the site may occur immediately or some time after the venipuncture is completed. A bruise may cause slight discomfort for the patient, but the mere sight of a bruise may generate undue anxiety and discontent for some patients. A patient may associate a bruise with a negative venipuncture experience and be hesitant to have blood tests in the future. It is not advisable for the phlebotomist to perform a venipuncture at the site of a recent bruise as this may cause discomfort for the patient and may also affect the quality of the blood sample. Bleeding disorders and anticoagulant medications:A hematoma may also form after a venipuncture, if the patient has a medical condition that impairs clot formation. A patient who is on anticoagulant therapy will experience a delay in clot formation. If the phlebotomist is aware of the condition, he/she can reduce the incidence of bruising by applying pressure to the venipuncture site for a longer than normal period of time. Also, it is best to inform the patient that bruising is likely. Communication is important to relieve patient anxiety if a hematoma appears.

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Clean Up Your Act

During a blood collection, bacteria that is present on the skin surface may adhere to the outside of the needle as it enters into the vein. This can allow bacteria to infect the puncture site. A serious infection of the blood (septicemia) or of the tissue (cellulitis) may result. To avoid an infection, it is imperative that the phlebotomist uses a technique that thoroughly cleanses the skin at the site prior to venipuncture.Once the phlebotomist locates a suitable vein for venipuncture, the site of the vein that will be punctured is cleaned with a pre-packaged wipe saturated with 70% isopropyl alcohol.The site is cleansed using a "target" motion beginning at the center of the site and moving outward in concentric circles applying enough pressure to move surface bacteria away from the puncture point. (This is demonstrated in the image on the right). It is not recommended to use a scrubbing back and forth motion to clean the site since you may drag bacteria from a dirty area back into the clean area. Allow alcohol to air dry for effective disinfection of the site. Never use non-sterile gauze to wipe dry the alcohol as this will contaminate the site.During the remainder of the procedure, the site must NOT be touched by anything that has not been cleaned in an identical manner. The phlebotomist should avoid retouching the site after cleaning. If it is absolutely necessary to re-palpate, the phlebotomist MUST clean the gloved finger in a manner identical to the above procedure. Make certain that no other piece of equipment touches the site. This includes ends of the tourniquet and gauze. If you suspect that your needle has touched the site before entry, dispose of the needle, re-clean the site and repeat the procedure using a new needle. If a patient complains that there is redness or pain at the puncture site, even hours or days after the procedure, immediately refer the patient to his/her physician for evaluation.

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Intravenous Line

Blood specimens should not be collected from an arm into which intravenous (IV) fluid is being administered. If at all possible, the phlebotomist should draw blood from the opposite arm or hand. If an IV line is delivering fluid into the patient's vein and the specimen is drawn from that vein, the specimen may be contaminated and diluted by the IV fluid; the blood test results could then be erroneous.If the arm or hand opposite of the arm that contains the IV line is not accessible or cannot be used for another reason, a capillary collection may be an option, if only a small amount of specimen is needed. However, if a venipuncture is necessary and the arm that has the IV line in place is the only option, ask the clinical person in charge of the patient's care to turn off the patient's IV. Ensure that the fluid has stopped flowing through the line, and wait at least two minutes before performing the venipuncture. It is imperative that the phlebotomist witness that the IV has physically been turned off by the health care provider and then turned back on after the draw has been completed. A phlebotomist must not turn the IV on or off.

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Which of the following blood culture collection techniques could cause a false-positive blood culture result?View Page
Geriatric Patients

Patients who are elderly may also require special considerations before, during, and after the venipuncture procedure.Mobility: Some elderly patients have difficulty walking or getting into or out of a chair. Using a chair that is an appropriate height so that the patient can safely get in and out of it will make it easier for the patient. Geriatric patients may also be unsteady on their feet. In such situations, the phlebotomist should react appropriately and walk alongside the patient, if necessary, to ensure patient safety.Veins: The veins of an elderly patient may appear to "roll" when venipuncture is attempted. The vein is not actually moving, but rather the muscles surrounding the vein have lost tone and the vein is not as stable as in a younger patient. Therefore, the phlebotomist must anchor the vein firmly and securely when attempting venipuncture. Skin: Skin may become thin and "papery" with advanced age. The phlebotomist must apply firm and prolonged pressure after venipuncture to prevent bruising. Use a bandage with a gentle adhesive to ensure stoppage of bleeding and promote skin integrity. Health concerns: Some elderly patients take medications that could affect their bleeding or their balance. Be aware that these patients may require extra attention and time. Keep in mind, not all elderly patients experience hearing loss. Thus, the phlebotomist should not assume the patient is hard of hearing and shout at the patient while speaking to them. Most often, the patient will tell you to speak louder if they are unable to hear you.

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Reducing Pain for Pediatric Patients

There are some commercial products available that are designed to alleviate pain from venipuncture.Cream: A topical cream can be applied to numb the venipuncture site. Apply well in advance to be effective. Always refer to manufacturer's instructions before use on patients. Be certain to determine that no allergy exists before using the product on a child.Mechanical device: A mechanical device can be used to stimulate nerves surrounding the venipuncture site to numb the site. This device must be used according to the manufacturer's instructions.Vein Viewer: This device enables the phlebotomist to determine the flow of blood thereby identifying the presence and direction of a vein. This device does not aid during palpation of the vein to determine vein health, diameter or depth.

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The Disappearing Antibody: A Case Study
Immediate Hemolytic Transfusion Reaction (HTR): Signs and Symptoms

The following signs and symptoms are associated with acute HTR due to ABO incompatibility but can be associated with other blood group incompatibilities. ABO incompatibility typically results from patient misidentification.The more serious symptoms result from intravascular hemolysis (IVH) caused by antibodies such as anti-A and anti-B that can bind complement to C9.Signs and symptoms typically appear within minutes of the transfusion but can occur anytime during the transfusion. They may include: 1. Burning sensation along the vein being transfused (IVH due to complement activation to C9)*2. Lower back pain in the area of the kidneys (renal failure with subsequent oliguria/anuria) *3. Unexplained bleeding/oozing from a surgical site (fibrinolysis following DIC)*4. Hypotension leading to hypovolemic shock (release of vasoactive substances caused by C3a and C5a)5. Tightness in substernal area of the chest (bronchial constriction due to release of vasoactive substances caused by C3a and C5a fragments)6. Other symptoms: fever, chills, skin flushing, dyspnea, wheezing, anxiety, malaise, nausea, headache. * If untreated, these complications may lead to patient death.

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