Those exploring the healthcare field will often hear terms that seem confusing because of their interchangeable nature. This is probably why I am asked so frequently about venipuncture.
What is Venipuncture?
The terms venipuncture and phlebotomy really go hand in hand. Venipuncure is a very formal word for the process used to collect blood from an individual’s vein. The blood is often drawn so that it can be sent to a lab for some sort of diagnostic testing.
The process itself is really very simple – to us phlebotomists, anyway (maybe not so much to those who have a fear of needles). Most venipuncture procedures are done at the back of the hand or at a vein inside the elbow. The phlebotomist uses an elastic band on the upper arm, causing a stifling in the flow of blood so that the vein will swell a bit. The needle is then carefully inserted into the vein and a tube or vial is attached to collect your blood. Once enough has been collected, the phlebotomist will remove the elastic band, remove the needle, and apply pressure to stop any bleeding.
The procedures is, for the most part, relatively painless. We’ve all had bad experiences with phlebotomists who aren’t as great with a needle as we wish they could have been, for sure. The good news is that the average person only feels a little bit of a prick or a sting as the needle goes in. Sometimes there is a dull throb after the procedure, but it does away quickly.
Why is Venipuncture Important?
Your blood is made up of two main parts – cells and fluid. The fluid contains both plasma and serum. Each part of your blood contains something vital to life. Testing different parts of your blood can help your doctors to determine if you have any of a myriad of diseases or complications.
Are There Risks?
The risks associated with venipuncture itself are generally very low. There are some exceptions, though. The most common complication is fainting or light-headedness, which are both normal as individuals adjust to a loss of blood (or overcome a fear of the procedure itself). A few people, especially those with blood disorders, have a hard time getting the bleeding to stop, but those people are carefully monitored. Those with compromised immune systems may have to worry about a small infection at the site where the skin was broken, and many people develop hemotomas, or bruises, where the procedure took place. These generally clear after a few days.
It is important to remember that phlebotomists are trained to perform venipuncture procedures. They’ve undergone hundreds of hours of classroom lecture as well as hundreds of hours of practice. They know exactly what to do to keep both themselves and you safe and calm during the short proceeding. Place your trust in your phlebotomist and your venipuncture procedure will be a thing of the past before you know it!