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Having Blood Drawn - Child

The pathology team of technologists and phlebotomists will work together to see that your child will receive the best of care during your test.   Every effort will be made to make your and your child’s visit to our facility as pleasant as possible. Our staff is trained to perform pediatric blood collections and is experienced in this field. Please feel free to ask any questions.

Where can I go to have blood drawn?
You can go to any of the WakeMed facilities to have blood drawn for most tests. There are a few tests that are performed only at certain locations.  Click  for a list of WakeMed locations and directions.

My child is afraid of needles.
Most children are afraid of needles, and the thought of blood loss can cause a panic in the most even-tempered child. There are lots of different ways to make the visit to the lab a little more pleasant.

Prepare in advance

  • Let your child know that they are going to have their blood drawn. Most children do not understand “lab test” and are very surprised when they find out they need to have blood collected.
  • Allow plenty of time to get to the outpatient area. If you are tense or hurried, your child will reflect your emotions.
  • Your child needs your undivided attention, so please try not to bring brothers and/or sisters.
  • Let your child know you will make sure that they get the best treatment possible.
  • Do not tell your child there will only be one stick.
  • Do not tell your child it won’t hurt. It is important to be honest with your child and acknowledge their fears. Your child will feel the stick like a pinch.

It will help the procedure if your child has had plenty of fluids. If your child is dehydrated, the veins may be very hard to find. It is difficult to obtain blood samples from small children, and more than one collection may be required to get enough blood. Phlebotomists at WakeMed will make every effort to obtain adequate samples with one collection.

Certain tests require the patient to be fasting (nothing to eat or drink for eight hours) prior to the test. You may call  (919) 350-8242 for questions about any specific test.

How to help you child with their emotions
Let your child know you accept their emotions. If your child begins to act out prior to getting to the lab, let them know you understand their fears or anger.

Get your child involved in some of the decision-making.

  • They can choose to sit in your lap or by themselves to have the tests done. (They cannot skip the test).
  • You can hold the other hand or help them hold still.
  • You can offer to tell a favorite story or sing a favorite song. No matter how silly, the phlebotomist won’t mind. They actually appreciate your efforts to calm your child. You could even get the phlebotomist to participate.
  • If your child has a favorite stuffed animal or toy, they may bring it to the lab. The phlebotomist can demonstrate to the child how the blood is collected.
  • An older child may not want a parent present for the procedure. Make sure to ask the child's preference.

What to bring to the test

  • The completed WakeMed Physician Order Form
  • Your insurance card and information
  • Any papers your doctor tells you to bring

When you arrive
When you arrive for your test, report to the Patient Registration area.  At Patient Registration, you will be asked for information that is required for our records and insurance billing purposes. 

Your child will be asked to wear an armband. This armband will have the name, medical record number, birth date and other hospital information of your child. Your child must have this armband on in order to have blood collected.

What will happen at the phlebotomy lab area?
You must present a written order from your child's physician. Orders should not be more than 30 days old. If we have questions about your orders, we will contact your doctor’s office for clarification. We want to make sure the correct tests are performed.  The parent or guardian will be asked to state the child’s name.

We make every effort to serve people in the order they arrive, but we may need to make exceptions for emergency testing or tests that must be collected at a specific time.

How we collect blood
You will be greeted by a phlebotomist who will guide you and your child to the phlebotomy area.  WakeMed phlebotomists are trained in two techniques to collect blood samples from infants and children:
• Skin puncture, more commonly known as the finger stick or heel stick.
• Venipuncture, commonly known as the “arm stick” 

The tests requested and the age of your child will determine which techniques can be used. Tests require a certain amount of blood to be drawn into colored tubes. We can only draw tests that have been requested by your physician. Only blood necessary for testing is collected.

Skin Puncture
When performing a skin puncture, a small lancet is used to puncture the skin and small collection containers are used to scoop the blood from the skin. There will be some gentle pressure as the phlebotomist squeezes the finger or heel to insure a good blood flow. This procedure may take a little longer than an arm stick. Since the blood vessels in the skin are so small, it may take an additional stick to obtain enough blood.       

Arm Stick
When performing an arm stick, a tourniquet (like a rubber band) will be tied around the upper part of the child’s arm. This allows the blood to fill the veins. This may feel tight to your child but will not be painful. A single use, sterile needle and blood collection tubes will be used to collect blood from your child’s arm. Every effort will be made to collect adequate samples with one stick.

You can help
It is important that your child be still during blood collection.  Occasionally, we will ask for assistance from you to help your child hold still. This is for your child’s safety. If the child should grab 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 person collecting your blood (phlebotomist) wears gloves and uses a disposable needle. The needle and holder are thrown away after each use.

The most common complication of having your blood drawn is bruising at the site. Care should be taken to keep pressure on the site and to make sure bleeding has stopped before you leave the area.

Some children may feel dizzy or light headed when having their blood drawn. Please let the phlebotomist know if your child experiences these symptoms or have experienced them in the past.  The phlebotomist may ask them to lie down during the blood collection.

What happens now?
Once blood has been collected, it is labeled with computer generated labels. These labels have your child's name and hospital number. The phlebotomist will add the date and time of collection and their code number.

Once the blood is labeled and your child has stopped bleeding, the blood test is complete. If your doctor ordered other tests, such as urine testing, EKG or X-Rays, those may be performed as well. If no other tests are necesary, you and your child may leave.

How do I get the results?
All laboratory results are sent to the physician requesting the tests. Regulations do not permit laboratory employees to give results to parents. Please contact your child’s doctor for the results of the tests.