Positioning Patients to Obtain Blood

Inpatients normally have blood drawn while they are in bed. Outpatients normally have blood drawn while sitting in special blood-drawing chairs. If there is no special blood drawing chair available, have the patient sit in a sturdy and comfortable seat that has armrests. A patient can recline in a reclining chair or lay on a sofa or bed if necessary. The phlebotomist should always be prepared in case a patient feels fain or loses consciousness.

When venipuncture is being preformed on an hand or wrist vein, the patient's hand should be well supported. For venipuncture in the antecubital area, the patient's are should be extended downward and should not be bent at the elbow. A slight bend may be necessary to prevent hyperextension of the elbow. This position makes the veins easier to locate. A downward position of the arm helps to ensure that blood collection tubes fill from the bottom up and prevents the backflow of tube contents into the patient's vein.

Positioning a patient properly who is lying down is a bit more challenging, especially if the patient's head can not be raised. A pillow or rolled towel can be placed under the patients arm and used to support the arm to allow the hand to be lower than the elbow. Sometimes it is helpful to lower the bed rails. If this is done it is important to remember to raise the bed rails after the specimens are collected. Many experienced phlebotomists have figured out techniques that make collecting specimens possible without having to lower the patient's bed rails.