Blood work, lab tests, and children don’t always mix.

I’ve been meaning to get on here recently and share a couple things that I have learned since my first born has been sick.  The infectious disease specialist ordered a second round of blood tests.  When we got to the lab, they were unable to find a good vein.    They tried a couple times and then pulled out because of my boy’s yelling.  The suggested we try again tomorrow.  Tomorrow came and he proceded to have an all out panic attack including barricading himself in his room.  The following day we went back and the phlebotomists were successful.  Here’s why:

  1. I begged and pleaded with the doctor to prescribe Lidocaine cream that is applied to the blood draw site prior to the lab work.  It numbs the area and makes the experience nearly pain free.  Dr’s around here will not routinely get a prescription for you.  Be firm.  Explain the specifics of why your child needs it (i.e. panic attack, barricading in room, etc).  When you get it, put a big gob on the site and wrap the cream in saran wrap (an “occlusive” dressing) 30-45 min before hand.
  2. I called the lab ahead of time, explained the situation and requested that the only the most experienced techs work on my son.  A friend who is an occupational therapist in a large hospital also recommended asking for an IV nurse if things are difficult.  These nurses can often get in where others cannot.  Good phlebotomists who are not very experienced will not be offended at your request.  They don’t want to hurt your child any more than you do.
  3. We went during first shift- between 7 am and 3 pm at our hospital.  People with the most seniority work first shift.  The more seniority is often times a sign of more experience and more ability.
  4. The phelbotomists were willing to look in a non-traditional location for a good vein.  The vein they used is on his bicep, not the crook of his elbow like you would think.  They told him if he ever comes back again that he is to point to that exact vein and tell the lab tech to use only that one.  Sometimes the forearm or back of the hand are good places as well.

And, one other tip- a friend of mine was in a car accident with the kids.  When the 3 year old needed blood work in the emergency room, the tech came in and dug around in the little girl’s arm.  The mom waited for her to find the vein and when the tech could not and the girl was screaming, mom instructed the tech to pull out and get a different person.  The nurses who were observing this told the mom afterwards that they, as nurses, are not allowed to tell a tech to pull out but hospital personnel have to follow the order of a parent and they were glad she spoke up.  When the new tech arrived, instead of drawing out a traditional sample, they were able to prick the little girl’s finger and “milk” enough blood for the needed test.  This may not be possible for all tests but keep it in mind! 

And don’t forget bribery!!!!  Bribery often times will give the child just enough to look forward to that they can do things they are scared of!

And be honest with them!  If it’s gonna hurt, tell them it will but just for a short time.  If they have to lay completely still, tell them but that someone will tell them when.  You get it.  . . . . .





Filed under Kid tips

2 responses to “Blood work, lab tests, and children don’t always mix.

  1. Hey! I’m just now getting around to your blog. I can SO relate to this post in so many ways. My oldest has anxiety. He had to have blood drawn last week. I WISH I had read this FIRST. Husbands going to mess around with the internet connection … but I’ll be back in a bit!

  2. Mom

    thumbs up to moms who are learning everyday how to
    best deal with the medical profession on behalf of
    a great grandson who usually can take lots of pain.

    Love you all, Fluffy

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