How to undertake venepuncture to obtain venous blood samples
Evidence & Practice    

How to undertake venepuncture to obtain venous blood samples

Sally Jane Shaw Clinical skills trainer, VIP Venepuncture and Cannulation Training, Warwickshire, England
Rationale and key points

Venepuncture and obtaining accurate blood samples is an important procedure in healthcare, and can assist in the diagnosis, care and treatment of patients. This article outlines the procedure for undertaking venepuncture and obtaining venous blood samples. It emphasises the importance of undertaking a visual assessment of the patient’s skin and palpating the veins to identify a suitable site for venepuncture.

The optimal sites for venepuncture are the veins in the antecubital fossa – the cephalic, basilic and median cubital veins. A suitable vein will be ‘bouncy’ to the touch, have no pulse and refill when depressed.

Venepuncture can be undertaken using either a needle or a butterfly device with safety system, depending on which site is selected. The size of needle used will also depend on the venepuncture site.

Before undertaking the procedure, it is essential to check the blood sample request form for the samples required and the healthcare organisation’s policy for the order of draw.

Reflective activity

‘How to’ articles can help update your practice and ensure it remains evidence-based. Apply this article to your practice. Reflect on and write a short account of:

How you think this article will change your practice when performing venepuncture and obtaining blood samples.

How you could use this resource to support your colleagues to perform venepuncture and obtain blood samples effectively.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2018.e10531


Conflict of interest

None declared

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

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Please note that information provided by Nursing Standard is not sufficient to make the reader competent to perform the task. All clinical skills should be formally assessed at the bedside by a nurse educator or mentor. It is the nurse’s responsibility to ensure their practice remains up to date and reflects the latest evidence

*On 1 April 2016 the statutory patient safety functions previously delivered by NHS England transferred with the national patient safety team to NHS Improvement

Received: 10 April 2016

Accepted: 09 August 2016

Published online: 14 March 2018