Preparing Your Child for a Blood Draw

Many children are afraid of needles and the thought of having blood drawn can cause panic in the most even-tempered children. At UNC REX Healthcare, every possible effort will be made to ensure that your child has a pleasant experience.

Prepare your child

Preparing your child for their blood draw in advance of their visit can help eliminate any fear that they may have.

  • Let your child know that they are going to have their blood drawn. Don’t use the term “Lab Test” as it doesn’t explain what will happen during their visit.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to get to the lab. If you are tense or hurried, your child will reflect your emotions.
  • Give your child your undivided attention. If possible, leave brothers and/or sisters at home.
  • Comfort your child and let them know that they will get the best possible care.
  • DO NOT tell your child that there will only be one stick
  • DO NOT tell your child it won’t hurt. It’s important to be honest with your child and acknowledge their fears. Your child will feel the stick, but it will only feel like a pinch.

You should also make sure that your child drinks plenty of fluids before having their blood drawn. Our phlebotomists (the person drawing the blood) make every effort to collect blood with one stick, however if your child is dehydrated the veins may be hard to find.

Your physician will let you know if your child’s blood test requires fasting, or not eating or drinking for 8 hours prior to the test. If you have any questions about special preparations for tests, you may contact the laboratory at 919-784-6000.

Involve your child in the decision making process

Allowing your child to take part in the decision making process related to their blood test can help to make them feel more comfortable.

  • Let your child decide if they want to sit your lap or by themselves while their blood is drawn. 
  • Ask your child if they would like to hold your hand. During the blood draw, you can hold the hand where blood is not being drawn. You can also help to hold them still during the test.
  • Offer to tell their favorite story or sing their favorite song. Our team greatly appreciates any efforts to help calm your child down, so don’t worry about looking silly.
  • Ask your child if they would like to bring their favorite stuffed animal or toy. The phlebotomist can use the toy to demonstrate how the blood is collected.
  • Let your child decide if they would like you in the room while their blood is drawn. Older children sometimes like to be on their own for the test.

What to bring to the test

When coming in for your laboratory test, be sure to bring:

  • A completed order form or “script” from your doctor
  • Your insurance card and information
  • Any additional papers your doctor tells you to bring

How we collect blood

Our phlebotomists are trained in two techniques to collect blood samples from infants and children.

  • Skin Puncture - A small lancet is used to puncture the skin and then small containers are used to scoop the blood. Your child will feel some pressure as the phlebotomist squeezes their finger or heel to insure a good blood flow. Since blood vessels in the skin are so small, this method may take a little longer and may require an additional stick to obtain enough blood.
  • Arm Stick - A tourniquet, or large rubber band, will be tied around the upper part of your child’s arm to allow blood to fill the veins. This may feel tight to your child, but won’t be painful. The collection site will then be cleaned with an antiseptic, such as alcohol, to prevent infection. A needle will be inserted into the vein and blood will be collected into colored tubes. Once the blood is collected, the needle will be removed and pressure will be applied to stop the bleeding. Every effort will be made to collect the blood in one stick.

It’s important that your child remain still during blood collection. You may be asked to hold your child to help make this possible. This is for your child’s safety. If your child grabs the needle after it enters the skin, it could cause an additional stick.

Safety of having blood drawn

Having blood drawn will not expose your child to diseases such as HIV or Hepatitis. The phlebotomist wears gloves and uses a disposable needle. This needle is thrown away after each use.

The most common complication of having blood drawn is bruising at the collection site. Be sure to apply pressure until the bleeding has stopped.

If your child feels dizzy or light headed when having their blood drawn, be sure to alert the phlebotomist.

How do I get the results?

All laboratory results will be sent directly to the physician who ordered the tests. Due to regulations, laboratory employees are not permitted to give results to patients. Please contact your child’s doctor for the results of their tests.

No Appointment Necessary

If you have questions regarding testing call 919-784-6000.

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