Pathology Laboratory

The 3 Standard Blood Sample Collection Methods

Last updated on January 28th, 2023 at 08:13 am

There are 3 methods of collecting and analyzing blood. The most common method is venipuncture, which involves the withdrawing of blood from a vein in the arm. This method can cause discomfort, so some people prefer to collect blood via finger poke or heel stick draw. These types of collection methods are often used for infants and young children who may not cooperate with venipuncture because of their level.

Blood Sample Collection Methods, What You Should Know

Collecting blood samples is a fundamental part of any medical procedure. It may seem simple, but there are a few tricks to the trade. This guide will walk you through the process step-by-step, with the goal of making it as easy as possible for you to understand the blood collection method and procedures before you visit a laboratory.

Collecting blood samples is crucial to the understanding, prevention, and treatment of disease. However, from the patient’s perspective, it can also be painful, unnerving, frightening, and inconvenient.

How you draw blood depends on the condition being tested for, but most commonly involves inserting a needle into a vein. Usually, laboratory technicians draw samples in their lab or at your home (if that service is availed by you), convenient for them (if not always for patients).

Different Methods of Blood Sample Collection

3 popular methods of blood collection are;

  1. Arterial sampling
  2. Venipuncture sampling
  3. Fingerstick sampling

Blood Collection Methods

  1. Arterial Sampling – This form of blood collection most commonly takes place within a hospital environment. It is used in the identification of metabolic, respiratory, and mixed acid-base disorders, where CO2 levels require understanding or monitoring. While safe, the procedure can be painful for the patient. There are also several potential contradictions that can affect the site of the collection, such as an abnormally changed Allen test or local infection. There is also an increased risk of bleeding complications in patients with coagulopathy.
  2. Venipuncture Sampling – Venipuncture is the most common way to collect blood from adult patients. The collection takes place from a superficial vein in the upper limb the median cubital vein; this vein is close to the skin and doesn’t have many large nerves positioned close by. This reduces pain and discomfort for the patient.
    • Venipuncture can take place in a general medical practitioner’s office and is often carried out by a trained phlebotomist or nurse. However, its commonality does not equate with it being the best way to collect a blood sample. Many patients find it inconvenient and worrisome. There are also risks related to the storage, transportation, and potential loss or contamination of the blood samples once they are collected. These same concerns also affect the suitability of arterial sampling.
  3. Finger-stick Sampling – Finger stick or finger prick sampling involves taking a tiny amount of blood from the patient, usually from the end of a finger. It is over quickly and requires very little in the way of preparation; therefore, reducing concern and anxiety in patients, particularly in children and nervous adults.

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Blood Sample Collection Techniques

Patient welfare at the point of the collection is not the only reason this method should be considered the best way to collect a blood sample. The long-term benefits to the patient include the loss of less blood and the ability to carry out testing at home, as a phlebotomist is not required for the procedure.

Arterial and venipuncture sampling are still very common and still have their places in medicine, clinical research, and patient care. However, with advances in technology and a greater understanding of blood sampling, finger-stick collection is gaining ground.

Companies like Neoteryx continue to advance blood collection and sampling, with expert tracking using a bar code system, making any loss of samples less likely. Technological advances also mean reduced contamination risks and reduced costs. From preclinical research to clinical trials to remote patient monitoring, the future of micro-sampling is here.

Blood Sample Collection Procedure

The first step in acquiring a quality lab test result for any patient is the specimen collection procedure. The venipuncture procedure is complex, requiring both knowledge and skill to perform. Several essential steps are required for every successful collection procedure:

Venipuncture Sampling Procedure
  1. A phlebotomist must have a professional, courteous, and understanding manner in all contact with all patients.
  2. The first step to the collection is to positively identify the patient by two forms of identification; ask the patient to state and spell his/her name and give you his/her birth date. Check these against the requisition (paper or electronic).
  3. Check the requisition form for requested tests, other patient information, and any special draw requirements. Gather the tubes and supplies that you will need for the draw.
  4. Position the patient in a chair, or sitting or lying on a bed.
  5. Wash your hands.
  6. Select a suitable site for venipuncture by placing the tourniquet 3 to 4 inches above the selected puncture site on the patient. See below for venipuncture site selection “notes.”
  7. Do not put the tourniquet on too tightly or leave it on the patient longer than 1 minute.
  8. Next, put on non-latex gloves and palpate for a vein.
  9. When a vein is selected, cleanse the area in a circular motion, beginning at the site and working outward. Allow the area to air dry. After the area is cleansed, it should not be touched or palpated again. If you find it necessary to reevaluate the site by palpation, the area needs to be re-cleansed before the venipuncture is performed.
  10. Ask the patient to make a fist; avoid “pumping the fist.” Grasp the patient’s arm firmly using your thumb to draw the skin taut and anchor the vein. Swiftly insert the needle through the skin into the lumen of the vein. The needle should form a 15-30-degree angle with the arm surface. Avoid excess probing.
  11. When the last tube is filling, remove the tourniquet.
  12. Remove the needle from the patient’s arm using a swift backward motion.
  13. Place the gauze immediately on the puncture site. Apply and hold adequate pressure to avoid the formation of a hematoma. After holding pressure for 1-2 minutes, tape a fresh piece of gauze or Band-Aid to the puncture site.
  14. Dispose of contaminated materials/supplies in designated containers.

The larger median cubital and cephalic veins are the usual choices, but the basilica vein on the dorsum of the arm or dorsal hand veins is also acceptable. Foot veins are the last resort because of the higher probability of complications.

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