About two months ago, I had to take my 12-month-old son to a lab so they could draw blood for a lead test. It was a brutal experience for my son as well as for myself. Another dad in our NYC Dads Group had a similar and frustrating experience with his son. Therefore, I invited Scott M. to be our “guest blogger” this week to share his experience and help educate other dads (parents) about blood draws — Lance.
Unfortunately, one cannot go into a lab and expect the technician to draw blood from your child correctly. After a harrowing attempt at drawing blood from my 13-month-old baby, I quickly found that out the hard way. It’s hard to get a recommendation for a specific lab since it seems technicians move around constantly. After doing some research, I learned what I can do to make drawing blood easier for both the technician and my baby.
Know the procedure for pediatric blood draws
Newborns should get blood drawn from their heels. This was done on my son with no problems during the first week of his life. They pricked his heel and then collected the blood as it came out from the prick. Once your child starts standing, they develop thicker skin and calluses so the heel is no longer an option. Babies and children have smaller veins than adults. A butterfly needle makes the procedure of drawing blood more manageable because the needle is thinner to accommodate the smaller vein. It is common practice to use a butterfly needle as opposed to a small bore needle which is used for adults. As our new favorite technician said when I exclaimed approval at seeing a butterfly needle on the supply tray, “Of course, nothing but a butterfly needle for the little baby!”
Help your child help the technician
- Keep your baby hydrated, starting the day before the draw. Dehydration makes veins harder to find.
- Make sure your baby is relaxed and stress-free. Play soothing music on the way to the office, and give yourself plenty of time to make the appointment. There is usually a wait in many of these labs. A baby will pick up the signals from a stressed-out parent. Stress increases the blood flow and constricts the veins.
- During the blood draw, soothe your baby. Cuddle and sing favorite songs. Let your child how proud you are of him/her for being strong.
Our pediatric blood draw experience
Our first attempt at Quest Diagnostics at 314 W. 14th St. This is the type of place I imagine technicians will want to transfer away from ASAP, or the ones who are not trained for treating babies remain here. It is in the basement of a building, and they made no attempts to cover the fact — I half expected the boiler to be chugging away in the corner. The seat we sat in to get my son’s blood taken had ground-in dirt, and the location had an overall dirty feel to it. Samples were piled in an open box, and one technician told us to go to an already occupied cubicle to wait (the one out of two that are available). Our technician did not seem knowledgeable on how to take blood from a baby. She used a regular needle to make her attempts, and on the third try, she poked and prodded around under his skin with the needle, searching for the vein. The needle was visible from under his skin as she swiveled it back and forth looking for the vein. Needless to say, my son was wailing and I could barely contain my anger from the torture he was experiencing. I’m a fairly accommodating parent — I figure whatever I can handle, my baby can, as I usually watch the needles go in my arm when I need shots or blood taken. I don’t think I would be able to sit calmly as a technician takes a needle and pokes it in me, and then swivels it under my skin … much less a baby. Barely audible under my son’s cries were the technician’s instructions to come back another day. Like that would happen!
Consequently, we had a great neonatal/pediatric blood draw experience at the Quest Diagnostics my wife routinely uses at 115 E. 57th St. When you walk into this lab, there is a professional waiting room with equally trained and professional technicians. If I was a technician, I would want to work at this lab. My wife recognized two of the three present technicians. Therefore, I believe I can recommend this location since there seems to be some consistency. We were assigned to the one technician my wife didn’t recognize, but the technician was efficient and accommodating to my questions. She used the correct butterfly needle, prepped the bottles for collection, and had everything ready before making her attempt. She was able to get the needle into the vein on her first try and complete the two blood samples like a pro. My son was screaming, most likely from the memory of the last attempt at the other location & not from what this technician was doing, as he normally frets very little during his shots at his pediatrician’s office and is soothed easily. Immediately after the minor procedure, the other technician (who my wife believes is the head of this office) came in to check on us to make sure everything was OK. I profusely thanked them for the quick process of drawing blood … and let them know how bad our other experience was.
Tips for drawing blood from babies, children
During my research on neonatal and pediatric blood draws to educate myself before going back for round No. 2 of drawing blood from my child, I came across a few phlebotomy and venipuncture sites that provided useful information as to which size butterfly needle to use and such. This link to Dr. Greene’s site was very helpful with layman’s explanation and my basic guide for how to make blood draws easier for children.
These two links will inform you about the procedure for a heel stick sample:
- The Heel-Stick Test – WhatToExpect.com
- Pediatric Blood Specimens – University of California, San Francisco
Lastly, this link to a pdf file will inform you about the best way for medical professionals to take blood from babies through the veins.
I invite other parents who have suggestions, recommendations, or a story to share on the topic of pediatric blood draws …
Photo: ©vzmaze / Adobe Stock.
I had an awful experience at a Quest on the UES. At the 92nd Street & 3rd avenue location, they tried unsuccessfully 3X to get my child with the needle. Finally, i said “no more”. We ended up at another Quest location on 86th Street & it was a very positive experience!
jeff g. says
Great piece. We had a good experience at the West 12th st. location. In the basement as well but felt clean.
Jeff g. says
Sorry, East 12th St.
This was really helpful! We’re going in today for our daughter’s blood tests and we feel much more prepared! Thank you!
We had a terrible first blood draw experience too! It’s amazing blood drawing in NYC is so backward, and we’re talking about high end Manhattan neighborhoods too.
Thanks for this blog post. Will keep researching.
A concerned dad
Wow this is so helpful thank you for posting!
Our first experience was horrible, I could tell that lady had no experience with infants. The second try at a different lab was unsuccessful as well. We will be going to the hospital today for a third attempt, needles to say I am very nervous, I hope they can actually get the blood they need this time and get it over with…..then to wait for the results. We are doing the lead test and a hemoglobin test.
I just had a dreadful experience while accompanying my son and granddaughter to her 1 year medical check. She required three inoculations and a lead test. The blood collection for the lead test was the most brutal abusive procedure i have ever seen needlessly done to a child. The technician- after giving three shots: one in each arm and a leg, plastering a bandage on them grabbed her little finger and punctured it – ok; but then took a vile with partially broken lip and held it to her finger as she squeezed the blood out one drop at a time. When the blood drop accumulated the tech would scrap the the edge of the vile along the underside of her finger to grab all of the blood – then repeat- squeeze, scrape, squeeze scrape. I thought this would be a drop or so but it went on interminably. I questioned this procedure and why it was being done this way. she very forcefully stated that that was the way it was done in a baby. When i objected and stated that i had never experienced it being done that way and i have three children,,, she said well we need a lot of blood and its too hard any other way. Harder than this?! I asked why it wasn’t being collected via a glass vacuum vial from the finger stick or a blood draw and she simply said they can’t get it that way. I didn’t actually time it, however, i felt it was at least ten minutes of this and my son thought so as well. I was literally ready to grab my granddaughter away from this abusive witch, when she paused and i thought ok she’s finished. She turned to look for something, turned back and started the process again. when finished she grabbed a bandage to apply to her little swollen painful finger and in interjected telling her not to put it on as she would chew on it and potentially choke. the tech refused to follow my instruction and applied it anyway and said she needs it or shell get blood everywhere, and thats why they tell the parents to watch them and then take off the bandage! who cares about ta little blood when she has just been brutalized and now placed at risk for choking to death?
I tell you this because there was no reason to allow that to go on except that i, and my son were relying on the medical staff to do the correct thing – they weren’t and you shouldn’t just trust that they will. I can’t believe i let it happen. My son was beside himself.
She screamed the entire time.
I would very much appreciate knowing if anyone else has experienced that procedure for collecting blood from an infant and if in fact it is an appropriate method under any conditions.
It needs to be discontinued by this pediatricians office and anyone else who is employing it.
Thanks so much
Marsha Barnes says
I gotta say as a phlebotomist- hydration is a big one- I’ve stuck babies from 1#10ounces (mom delivered at 24 weeks) to 40#( chunky 8 mo old)- definitely not easy if not hydrated- a warm pack helps too- it’s also about the holder too- I’ve used successfully a 25 5/8 gauge syringe the most – the butterfly (25gauge) is great for blood cultures and plus more labs- it’s not fun for the phlebotomist as well- but I personally know if your child is dehydrated it will be harder to obtain the blood- I am at 95% on being successful-we can only stick the arm for more extensive testing like chemistries because the squeeze on the heel CAN elevate the potassium- if I miss – my conscious kills me- it’s a humbling job not many can master- as far as nursing they can stick in the foot-scalp- or chest- I know that phlebotomy gets a bad wrap and we know we are not perfect but always will do our best – so please make sure your baby can eat so they are at least hydrated- illness stinks and makes it so hard on the parents and the child- the weight of animosity is also as equal on the sticker-God Bless all phlebotomist because we do care about what we do- we Do want to help your baby/child/adult.❤️💉
To Mumzie…..I too am a well seasoned phlebotomist with 30 yrs experience. In regards to the reply you were left from Marsha Barnes the phlebotomist: Please know all of us do not feel the same way and just chalk it all up to your child was dehydrated. Yes in alot of cases that is true and does make the stix harder but also know there are a lot of phlebotomist who use that as an excuse for not obtaining the blood. I hate to see what happens to all the children who are sick and need labs to make them better what she does??? because when a child is sick they are always dehydrated. In my opinion every single thing you complained about you had every right. The phlebotomist is in control and instead of all the nonsence she talks about in making the phlebotomist not feel so bad how bout do your job, have sympathy and let the child get in and out of there. They were rude to you and most labs do not function that way. Here is how it should have been handled…
I always draw a lead 12 months and older right out of the vein. And if she didn’t even look first at a vein in the arm that was strike one.
She should have warmed the finger. Creates blood flow and things go a lot smoother.
You NEVER scrape the blood…it picks up skin cells and gives false results. You let the blood drip into the vile wiping away the very first drop with skin cells on it. Strike 2
You NEVER ignore the concerns of the parents. Strike 3 you should have asked for another tech.
She was either new or just doesn’t care and is only there to punch a clock.
As a fellow phlebotomist I am very sorry this happened to you and apologise.
Most of us have big hearts and not only care deeply about our patients but also about the famlies that come in with them. You are well within your right to voice your opinion and expect your concerns to be taken seriously. I hope in the future this never happens to you or your family again.
Experienced the same thing today I am angry cause I did nothing,I have had sleepless night,cause of my baby my hope was for her to heal ,but what she went through today is unbearable….what hurts the most I stood there and did nothing.
Does anyone have experience with the Labcorp location at 100 Livingston Street (downtown Brooklyn)? Very nervous about my one year old’s blood draw. If, in addition to the above, anyone has had any good experiences with a lab, I would love to hear about it. Thanks in advance!
I’m a phlebotomist of eight years. (Some folks confuse us with lab techs, but all we do is draw blood.)
I’ve drawn countless babies and children for blood and I would like to offer some insight from our side of the chair, if I may.
The tips given for having your baby or child well-hydrated before the draw are excellent advice. However, many times babies and children come to us after having been sick and throwing up or experiencing diarrhea and are therefore dehydrated and cranky. This makes finding a vein much more of a challenge and sometimes, impossible. It’s definitely stressful for anyone to have to watch as a needle is poked into your child’s little arm or hand as they scream and cry and try to get away. It’s stressful for the phlebomist, too; we don’t like it any more than you do and we just want to get the blood as quickly and painlessly as we can. But the stress of these draws comes with the territory so we try to be as professional as possible and present an outward calm in the face of the stress. I would have to say that drawing children and babies is the worst part of my job because the little ones are too young to understand why this is happening and one bad experience can leave lasting memories that can make every draw after that an unpleasant one.
Where I work, we have all of our supplies set up and ready to go before we look at a child or babies veins. We have Mom or Dad hold the child or baby on their lap, facing us and ask the adult to wrap their arms around the child in a bear hug, while leaving one arm out so that we can look at it for a vein. We always have a second phlebomist right there, also, to help hold the child’s arm out straight for us and keep it in place as we insert the needle into the vein. We always use butterfly needles for children and babies, no exceptions.
The following are reasons for not getting the blood successfully in my experience: dehydration, an extremely upset child or baby with constricted veins from the stress, a very strong baby or child that twists his or her arm or body right as the needle is inserted, veins that “blow” when the needle is inserted, no matter how carefully we try to thread the vein.
(A vein that “blows” is one that immediately leaks blood into the surrounding tissue. Also known as a hematoma. Usually, but not always, the swelling from the hematoma makes getting blood from the blown vein impossible.) This leaked blood is absorbed by the body and is commonly known as a bruise.
As we draw the blood, both myself and the other phlebomist try to sooth the child with calm, kind words of encouragement. After the draw, we do things like high fives for older kids and give stickers or teddy bears to the younger ones. Sometimes we’ll fashion a quick, little bow to press onto the coban wrap if it’s a little girl we’ve drawn.
We LOVE parents who try to stay calm during one of the most difficult things they have to witness their child go through. Most of us are parents too, and we remember how it feels. We’re on your side and we want your child or baby to get the test done so that the doctor can properly treat them and you can get on with your lives. We welcome your questions and any insights to your child or baby’s temperament and past experiences with blood draws. And lastly, please don’t treat us like criminals for trying to do our job. There’s a very real psychological factor in play when we’re drawing blood. If you come in with a negative attitude and treat us disrespectfully, it can actually affect the outcome of the draw. We CAN be psyched-out. This rarely happens with experienced phlebotomists, but it’s tough on the newer ones. It’s in your child’s best interest to be kind and be as relaxed as you can be.
I apologize for those who’ve given you a bad experience, we don’t appreciate people like that either, they make it harder for all of us. Thanks for the chance to give my two cents.
A Phlebomist from Idaho.
Ansu shrestha says
Hi since you are a phlebomist n im a mother of 13 months old child, i hv a question to ask u. I took my child to lab corp today in d afternoon for lead test n haemoglobin test. C withdrawn around 6-7 ml total of blood i guess in two test tubes. Of course it was hard to find tge vein at first n it was painful even more for my baby when she was rotating the needle to find out the vein after she pierced the needle into my baaby’s hand..anyways c did it successfully..then we made exit from lab corp n reacged home within 15-20 min..then i found that my babies left hand has some red spots under the skin..i mean the red spots are not the one from where the nurse took blood bt its spreaded js all over her left hand in d form of spot..im more concerned for the red spots that why it is so..n its blood red dpots under skin..bt c is absolutely fine..c is playing, eating well bt why is dat blood red spots? Anythng wrong wid my child health dat it could b a symptom of any thing bad? Plz do reply
Was a bandaid used? Baby may be sensitive to adhesive, many are.
Dora Coon parks says
I just like to thank you for that statment. I do the baby and some time you can not get the blood and the parent are looking at you like you do not know what you are doing. They do not know that you feel very bad when you can not get the blood. And you are praying that it is a one stick. That happened to me today 2 x and I feel real bad. Thank you for this.😞😞.
Thanks for breaking it down this way. I had the most harrowing experience yesterday at the clinic. my son had throat infection and could not swallow his food or the drugs and so had to take him to the clinic because of dehydration, vomiting and diarrhoea. only to get to the hospital and told he would be admitted. No problem but then, to locate a vein for the infusion, 3 different lab techs in 10 different places on the hands and legs. at one point, I could see from my 6 month old face telling me to save him. After the last TECH tried and was unsuccessful, I picked up my son and went home. I feed him with a drug dispenser suction and by the next morning he was getting better. Never gonna use that hospital gain. the trauma main, wife and I went through is enough from one hospital!
Once I watched a video and it was really interesting. The nurse was using toys and keep playing with the baby and making them smile, so, the baby didn’t cry and didn’t realize anything. It’s a different way and I think it helps and it’s an important way of not making in an horryfing experience.
Concerned mom says
I totally agree with that. Calming the child by distracting him is very smart, but it’s so important to have experienced individuals draw blood in your infant/ toddler. My son became very ill and I was admitted to uhc. He had blood drawn quite a few times. Unfortunately, although the nurses are wonderfully nice, they just don’t have the experience to be quick and painless. His last blood draw made me so angry as inexperienced nurses continued to wiggle the needle to draw blood. This prolonged for at least 10 min.
His last experience was so
Much better with someone from iv team. I will definitely never allow this to happen again and will always ask for the most experienced/ iv team member! The more you tolerate, the more your child suffers.
I am an iv therapy RN with a lot of experience. I can tell you that even the most experienced iv therapists and phlebotomists have to “wiggle” sometimes. I use an ultrasound to guide the iv catheter into the vein. To the untrained eye it probably looks a lot like wiggling, but it’s not. Accessing a vein is a very HARD and stressful thing to do. I can assure you NO ONE wants to poke a infant or child! People actually fight over who is going to do it. Parents think they’re doing a good thing by demoralizing the person trying to access their child’s vein, which is often the size of a thread. It may make them feel better to tell everyone “I told that witch x, y and z”, but isn’t going to have good results for the future of healthcare. Experienced people are leaving in droves due to mistreatment and off-the-chart stress levels. Imagine doing a task at your job that requires great concentration, precision and skill. While you’re performing this task, someone who knows nothing about what you’re doing, hovers over you and tells you that you don’t know what you’re doing! As a result, people quit and you have an over-abundance of inexperienced people.
Amen! As a phlebotomist for 37 years, I’ve drawn so many children and infants it’s hard to count. Even after all these years of experience, it is still very stressful to draw little ones! Their veins are sometimes very hard to find and even with a parent holding and someone helping hold the arm, it’s still tough! But to the parents, we are NOT trying to hurt your child! We first of all want to hit the vein and 2nd want to get the proper amount and a good sample so the results will be accurate! So please don’t get angry and huff and puff when it’s not going right, we’re really trying our best!
I feel badly that anyone would have a difficult experience, I worked for 33 years at a health department lab, where it was our main focus (children and babies) and while i was not a primary “vampire, i also could do it, but then we worked as a team to make the baby and parent (s) have a comfortable experience…note not necessarily an enjoyable one, but they did not face trauma.
I’ve been working in a pediatric clinic for 15 years. I run the lab, so all day I draw blood. I can see why you would be upset if the tech was not using the proper materials. However for anyone to be upset because the tech could not get the blood that is needed is unfair. Getting a specimen is not easy on a baby or a child. Their veins are small, their veins roll and/or collapse/blow. Babies and infants can twist their body and their arms in ways that adults cannot so sometimes it is hard to stabilize the arm you are drawing. Because of this, sometimes the technician does have to dig a little bit to get the vein. Yes it’s probably uncomfortable for the baby, however they’re are also upset about a stranger hovering over them, holding on to them and doing something that hurts. Keep calm, babies and children can sense when a parent is upset or stressed. During the procedure talk to your child, comfort your child as best as you can or distract them as well as you can. Allow the tech/phlebotomist to do their job. Now I’m not saying that if you sense something is not right to not speak up. I do not have anything against parents speaking up if they feel that I am not doing my job correctly. However don’t come in there with this mindset that it went bad last time, this time you’re going to lay down some rules or this is the first time and you’re nervous and if the blood needed was not collected you’re going to be upset. Like any professional in their profession, sometimes it doesn’t go according to what you would like. But trust me, we only want to poke your child once and only once. Please know that most of us who work in pediatrics love working with children. It is not an easy job, it truly takes a person who love working with children to do this. I cannot tell you how many people I see leave this job because it is very hard to work with children and parents. These are people who do a phenomenal job. I’ve had my fair share of parents who come in and are angry at me for something that I have not done, or they’re upset that I was unable to get the sample needed. Please know that this job is not an easy one. We try everything to make this experience as best as possible following procedure and protocol. As far as finger sticks go, the Pediatric Clinic that I work for we do not use the scoop method. There are other materials that you can use that does not require you to scoop. I would recommend it if I saw that. I would also recommend doing the finger stick before vaccines. After getting vaccines the child is already very upset, then you come in and you hold onto their hand and you poke them again and you hold on and you squeeze and you scoop and you squeeze and you scoop. Of course they’re going to be upset. I find that if I go in before the clinical assistant goes in and give the vaccines it goes so much better. Regarding the band aid, I do believe that it is important that you keep the Band-Aid on. You don’t have to keep it on long, I usually ask parents to keep it on for about 5 to 10 minutes. Think of it like this, if we allow children to bleed with no band aid on and we missed a spot (our examine tables are dark colors like navy, purple, etc) when we’re cleaning that room, you as the next patient wouldn’t want your child to come in and be exposed to that. I’ve seen parents who take off the Band-Aid because the child is upset with the band Aid, they try to hold tissue on the finger, that never goes well. First of all, your child is upset and they’re not going to want you to apply pressure to their finger because it hurts and you’re busy trying to comfort your child so you’re not really focuse on trying to keep the blood contained. Keep the band aid on, once your child calms down the bleeding slows down and you’re able to take off the band aid. I hope what I shared helps parents understand that the job’s not easy and we do try our best. I have four children of my own, one of them was diagnosed with kidney disease so I know how hard it is to be a parent and to have this done on your child too many times to count. I’ve been on both ends, I’ve met wonderful people who do a great job and I’ve met some people who probably shouldn’t be working with children. So I do understand, but do you understand how hard it is to be on the other end too? It is just as hard for us doing the job as it is for you as a parent watching your child go through this. Please know that my job and yours is to keep your child safe and healthy.
When my baby was born and the lab lady came to collect her blood for the first time i was shocked as well. It was drawn frim her heel but i could not wrap my head around the fact that the lady put the baby down liftedvher little leg and then was complaining that blood is taking slow to come out. I was so flustered. Poor baby was screaming her little lungs out and the lady refused to let me pick her up so her lags can be down. Now i have to go for another blood draw and i am traumatized from the previous experience.
Just a teeny little fyi….the butterfly needle has nothing to do with the gauge of the needle (size or what you called bore). A butterfly needle is used for greater flexibility when performing blood draws on difficult veins such as the tiny veins in children. Butterfly needles come in gauges 21, 23 and 25. The higher the number the smaller the gauge. But straight needles also come in those small gauges. =)
Kevin McKeever says
Thanks for the insight, Kellie.
When I read this I’m shocked to see parents think that they know so much more than the tech or that somehow just reading info on the internet somehow equates to real experience. First off, children are hard regardless of blood drawing experiences. Why? Because they have very small veins that are hard to find on top of the screaming, kicking, and punching. Then you add their parents who are mad doging you or seem like they’re about to attack you. Its equivalent to someone telling you to open a lock while silently threating to beat you up and you don’t know the combination to the lock. It definitely feels that stressful.
A tech could get it on the first try and the next time not get it. People’s bodies change base on temp, hydration, if they’re sick, position, ect. Not even mentioning different individuals. It’s never the same even with the same patient. Every tech wants to get it on the first try, and I don’t know any techs that want to stick a person more than once, especially children. There is no such thing as a baby expert blood drawer, especially when it comes to taking blood from a child’s vein. The only thing more experienced with drawing blood from a baby does is make someone confident about the skills they already have. The more confidence you have, the better you can stay calm under the pressure. The caller you are the less likely you’ll make a mistake. That’s it. Butterfly’s don’t mean they are smaller needles, they are actually the same gauge as a normal one. The difference is that with a short needle and a flexible tubing you can manuever it much easier. Heel sticks don’t work for every type of testing because you can’t get a lot of blood and the squeezing of the heels or fingers causes a lot of hemolysis that interferes with a lot of tests. Many infants get poked three or four times to get blood because the bloods hemolyzed and no good; all because parents want to do only heel sticks and finger sticks. At that point it would be much more beneficial if you just ask your doctor if the tests are necessary. You’d be surprised. Plus doctor’s order tests that require at least 4-8 ml of blood and you’re never going to get that amount milking a finger or a heel unless you want to do like 10 pokes and milk for over 2hrs (that’s not allowed). That’s why it’s so important that doctor’s stay ahead of their game and order vein draws on children only if necessary. If not necessary they should never subject children to that trauma. Sadly, this isn’t always the case. If you’re a parent, be more understanding that if your child’s sick and they really require this blood draw, let the techs do their job. They don’t like it anymore than you do but they have to get it. It’s ok to get educated and spot what absolutely shouldn’t be done but for the most part let them do their job. It really helps take the pressure off and with less pressure it goes a lot smoother.
Soothing a child definitely helps but it’s still gonna hurt. Every child takes pain differently just like adults . The best thing you can do to help is to hold them tightly so they can’t kick the needle, they can’t move the arm and change the position, all while keeping calm and soothing them. This really helps.
In my experience, the IV team isn’t any better than the tech. It comes down to who happens to have the golden touch that day. Plus if you think about it logically, if an IV comes in after a tech he/she sees where the tech went and failed so they aren’t going to go there. So chances are he/she’s gonna get it because that’s the only place left to go. I’ve had times where I found a vein, got blood where the IV team could not find a single vein. Then I come back later to see that they took the only vein I found. Forcing me to go elsewhere in a patient that didn’t have veins anywhere else. I’ve also drawn patients on my first try when IV teams and nurses of over 20yrs experience can’t get them. Then there are days I can’t do it but the IV and nurse who I just helped yesterday could. Then there are days no one can and it forces the doctor to call someone who is authorized to poke indefinitely until they get it. Experience helps but there comes a point where the amount of experience doesn’t matter anymore.
Have you heard about infrared vein finders for babies? I saw one used in a hospital. You can see what I mean here: https://www.infrared-light-therapy.com/infrared-vein-finder/
What’s your opinion?
I am an iv therapy nurse and I can tell you that an ultrasound is much better. With the light, it is impossible to know the depth or condition of the vein.
Although the light can be helpful in some circumstances, it is not a guarantee that the first stick will be successful. The problem is, very few nurses are trained and given the practice required to become proficient with the ultrasound. The reasons for this are that hospital administrators are unwilling to invest in IV therapy, and nurses’ jobs are so condensed that there is very little time for practice. They believe every nurse should be proficient with ivs right out of school. In actuality, being exceptional at drawing blood and/or starting ivs takes many hours of practice.
Kristin B says
Quest diagnostics in Auburn Ca TRAUMATIZED my 13 month old and myself. Lets just say she gave me the responsibilities of holding my infant still. While poking her arm deep in search for a vien? It was the most horrific experience. My child was insanely strong and fought hard. I was sweating trying to restrict her from moving. But the nurse was moving too the needle moving under her skin. My baby ended up pulling away and the needle came out. She had a HUGE bruise. Only then did she ask for another technician. I was already having traumamatic stressful emotional pain for my child. And she says we need to do it again. She tried to sooth my child and and apologized and stepped away. Only to do it again, my child was screaming and choking in fear before the second needle got near her. Again she poked abd proded my baby’s other arm looking for a vien, my daughter was hyperventilating and snot was pouring from her nose. It was absolutely the most stressful day as a mother. No other day was this intense not even the day she was born. My child has been SO fussy, her entire demeanor has changed. She cries for NO REASON never did before. She threw herself forward onto the floor today and she had Never behaved this way before this experience. Never again just NEVER.
this is an old article, but wanted to make sure there was clarification about “Newborns should get blood drawn from the heel”. This isn’t necessarily true. My newborn routinely needed basic and comprehensive metabolic panels, particularly for potassium levels. If you do a heel stick, it will most certainly give a false elevated level. So, it has to be a venous draw every single time, because the K+ levels determines the medication dosage.
The choice of how blood is drawn is determined by test and specifically what the doctor will use it for.
With that said, I have seen some amazing phlebotomists that can get a perfect venous draw in a minute from a 6 month old. And, I’ve seen some really terrible ones. Some signs that it’s a terrible one: takes forever to “find a vein”, has to wait to use one of those vein finder things, says that while they wait for the vein finder they can do a heel stick for the other tests (don’t subject your baby to both if you HAVE to have a venous draw for BMP). If they do any of these things then politely decline their services and wait until they can find someone that is experienced in getting blood from babies.
Kevin McKeever says
Thanks for the info, Erin.
Pamela A Weymouth says
Hi Kevin, Great article. I’m a mom of a child who was very traumatized by blood draws for 8+ years. I’ve worked hard to create a system to reduce needle trauma in children and I’m now offering coaching and a 7 Step plan to reduce needle fear and trauma in kids! I’d love to share this with you and see if you’d like to share with your readers! Learn more at http://www.mightykidscan.com I’ve not posted my plan for free, but I do have several blogs in which I describe some of the steps. Hope you are staying safe and let me know if you’d like to learn more! You’re totally right about hydration and pediatric needle size but there are a few more excellent tools and tricks that you could add to help families even more! warmly, Pamela
Jahnavi Jaanu says
The situation of drawing blood from the baby is an ever painful event for the mother. Still, thank you so much for the helpful tips and advice shared. This gives some sort of relaxation.
This is very good giving tips on how to draw blood on an infant. I guess it is best to draw blood from the heel so that the infant may not notice it. All the while i thought that drawing blood is always done on the arm.
This gives a me relief since my niece is still 3 years old and very afraid of doctors and needles.
Pamela A Weymouth says
Hi! If you need any more help I do coaching for overcoming needle fear in children. mightykidscan.com Happy to help you!