6. What should I expect when I get my blood drawn?
The procedure should only take a few minutes. After you are identified by the phlebotomist, nurse, or other healthcare professional, you will be asked a few simple questions about your prior experiences or any problems you might have encountered during previous blood draws. The phlebotomist will tighten a tourniquet around your upper arm, and proceed to survey your antecubital area (the bend of your arm) for veins. Depending on how visible your veins are, you may be asked to clench and hold your fist. Do not pump your fist, just clench and hold.
Once a suitable vein has been located, the site will be cleansed, probably with an alcohol pad, and allowed to dry. The device to perform the puncture to your vein will be assembled, and the tubes to be filled selected. The phlebotomist will stretch the skin where he/she intends to insert the needle and warn you when the needle is about to be inserted. you will then feel a small pinch, similar to that of a mosquito bite.
Once the vein has been accessed, the phlebotomist will fill each tube one at a time, mixing each one as soon as it is filled. If a syringe is used, he/she will withdraw as much blood as necessary and fill the tubes after the needle is removed. Before removing the needle, the tourniquet will be released and you will be asked to unclench your fist. The needle will be removed, and a safety feature will be activated on the device that conceals the needle, preventing the healthcare worker from being accidentally stuck.
The phlebotomist will apply pressure to the site with a gauze pad immediately, or ask you to apply direct pressure. You should not be asked to bend your arm up, which goes against the standards and is not an adequate substitute for direct pressure. Bruising may occur and lead to complications. Cotton balls should not be used to apply pressure, as it also goes against the standards for the industry. Cotton fibers could be embedded into the wound as it closes, and cause the wound to reopen when the cotton ball is removed.
The phlebotomist will complete the mixing of the tubes, apply the labels identifying the blood as belonging to you. In some locations, your identification will be hand-written on the tubes. The phlebotomist will then remove the gauze pad and observe the site to assure bleeding has stopped. This observation should not be brief, but should take up to ten seconds. Shorter observations may not be long enough to detect blood leaking from the vein into your tissue, which can lead to a nerve injury
After determining bleeding has stopped from the vein and from the surface of the skin, the site will be bandaged. You will then be shown the labeled tubes and ask to confirm they are labeled correctly. Alternative, if you have an identification band on your wrist, the phlebotomist may simply compare the labeled tubes with your ID band. One of these two confirmatory steps must be conducted. Do not allow the phlebotomist to leave you, or to allow you to leave, without labeling the tubes in your presence and making this final check.