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Ways Blood Can Be Drawn at Children's Hospital Colorado


The phlebotomy staff at Children's Hospital Colorado Outpatient Lab is specially trained in pediatric blood drawing, which means a less painful and traumatic experience for your child. There are three techniques used in obtaining blood specimens:

  • Venipuncture
  • Finger stick or Heel stick

The phlebotomist will chose the best method for your child’s blood draw depending on the amount of blood they need for the tests and/or the age of the patient. At Children's Hospital Colorado, we only draw the minimum quantity needed.

What is a venipuncture?

A venipuncture is the puncture of a vein with a needle to withdraw blood. Blood drawn from a vein is most commonly taken from a bend in the arm near the elbow. Other areas such as the top of the hand, foot, or a scalp vein can also be used. All venipuncture at Children’s are performed with a butterfly needle attached to a syringe or drawn directly into a tube after tying a tourniquet on your child’s arm. Butterfly needles are the smallest needles available and require the staff to be highly trained in order to use them properly. Your child may feel a sting when the needle is inserted. In our experience, crying is not usually caused from the pain of the needle, but from holding your child still.

In the Outpatient Lab we never use a Papoose board (a board in which the child is wrapped unto for complete restriction). We feel these may be appropriate in other situations, but not for a simple blood draw. We are able to obtain the blood with special techniques of holding the arm and with the parent giving a comforting hug.

What is a finger stick or heel stick?

When only a small amount of blood is needed, our staff can perform either a finger stick or heel stick. Heel sticks are usually not done on patients after 3-6 months of age. Before the stick is done, the child’s hand or heel will be warmed with a gel pouch. The gel pouches used at Children's Hospital Colorado are chosen based on their ability to maintain a safe temperature to use on pediatric patients. Once your child’s skin is warm, the phlebotomist will make a small prick in the finger or heel. Your child will feel a quick, sharp prick. Our phlebotomist will gently squeeze your child’s finger or heel to obtain the blood sample.