FAQs about Pediatric Pokes in Outpatient Lab
at American Family Children’s Hospital
We always want to give the safest, quickest and most child-friendly blood drawing services in
our outpatient lab. Every child who needs blood drawn should go the lab and have a lab
technician take a look at both arms to feel and find a vein to poke. The technicians are highly
trained in drawing blood in children.
How does a lab technician find a vein?
Looking and feeling. The technician will look first. A stretchy band will be placed at the top of
the arm to make the veins easy to feel. It feels like a tight squeeze and may pinch your arm skin
a little bit. If the technician can feel a vein, the skin is cleaned with an alcohol wipe and then a
needle is poked in the skin (into the vein). The feeling is like a “pinch” when the needle first
breaks the skin. Buzzy Bee or numbing cream can help make that feeling much less. Once there
is blood in the tubing, the technician will start to fill a syringe or different tubes. Filling the
tubes usually takes less than a minute; the technician will only take a small sample of blood.
Deep breathing, relaxing, and counting can help while waiting. When most of the tubes are
filled, the technician will loosen the blue rubber band. After the needle is removed a small piece
of gauze will be held to the arm and then a Band-Aid will be placed.
Why does the needle miss sometimes?
Veins are tubes that move blood inside the body. Sometimes they roll away from the needle.
The vein can also fall down on itself when it is poked. It will go back to normal once the needle
is moved. Sometimes, veins move under the skin, the technician may move the needle to try and
get into the vein. These small movements are not extra pokes and should not cause extra pain.
Can certain health conditions make it hard to see and feel veins?
Sometimes a person can have a health condition which makes it hard for blood to be drawn. If
the technician does not get any blood on the first try, there may be one more try, or decide that
the veins are too deep or hard to poke and may ask for help. Please do not be afraid to ask any
questions during this time. If you get more than one poke every time you get blood drawn, ask
your provider or clinic nurse about other options.
Will it always be hard to get blood from my veins?
Growing bigger can make veins move closer to the surface and easier to feel. Drinking a lot of
healthy fluids can also make veins easier to feel. Most people are able to have their blood drawn
with one poke by lab technicians as they get older. It is a good idea for children to have a lab
technician look at both arms at every blood draw. The technician will rarely poke a person if a
vein can’t be felt. Ask as many questions as you need to during any blood draw.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 9/2015 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7824