Testing Information

Specimen Collection


Today, your physician has requested laboratory tests that require RML to collect a blood specimen from you. This is the first link in a chain of events that is completed when your physician receives the test results that are necessary for your care or diagnosis.

Each of our staff is highly trained and experienced in blood collection. Their goal is to draw your blood with a minimum of discomfort. First, they will apply a tourniquet about midway between your elbow and shoulder. This will make the veins more pronounced and easier to find. They will inspect the area of the arm or hand below the tourniquet by both looking and feeling for the vein. They may examine your other arm also because sometimes veins are small in one arm and large in the other. Please let your phlebotomist know about any special requests or considerations that may help to make the procedure successful.

The next step will be obtaining the blood sample. Safety is one of our primary concerns. Needles, syringes and tubes are disposable and used only once. Disposing of the needles after a single use minimizes the danger of exposure to disease-causing agents such as viral hepatitis and HIV.

Although rare, there are risks involved as with any invasive procedure. Despite our best effort, some patients may experience one or more of the following:

Minor pain, swelling, bruising, inflammation of the vein. Your phlebotomist will apply pressure to the site where the blood was collected. Most of the time, this prevents leakage of blood into the surrounding skin and associated bruising. Keeping pressure on a puncture site for several minutes after the needle has been removed is the best way to prevent blood leakage. Any bruising should disappear over the following week. You can find relief by applying an ice pack or additional local pressure to the sites. After the first 24 hours, take ibuprofen (ie. Advil, Motrin) for inflammation and apply moist heat (a warm wash cloth).

Fainting or nausea. Please let the phlebotomist know if you have experienced this in the past so that we can take precautions to prevent a fall that might injure you. Should you faint during the procedure, we will make every effort to prevent injury to you.

Local inflammation of a nerve in the arm. Nerves can be found near or on the veins located in the arm. Because the nerves are undetectable, they may be punctured during the phlebotomy. This happens very seldom (1 in 6000 cases), but it can cause a sharp shooting pain either immediately or perhaps hours later. There might also be tingling or numbness associated with nerve inflammation. Bruising and swelling can increase discomfort. You can find relief by applying an ice pack and additional local pressure to the site to prevent blood leakage around injured nerve. After 24 hours, take ibuprofen for inflammation and apply heat (a warm wash cloth). Taking ibuprofen or painkillers within 24 hours of collection could actually prolong bleeding which would cause bruising to increase. These symptoms should disappear within a few days, but could last several months. In very rare cases (1 in 1.6 million), permanent nerve damage may occur.

Other possible risks. Thrombophlebitis, local infection and thrombus occur very rarely, but may require treatment by your physician.

Should you have any concerns of if you experience continued swelling, enlarged bruising, pain, or oozing from the site, please call your physician or RML.