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How do Phlebotomists Find Veins in Their Patients?

best phlebotomy schools near me

Finding the right vein isn’t always an easy task. Phlebotomists strive to locate one and draw successfully on the first try, but that might not be possible in all cases. Certain veins are difficult to find as they might roll or collapse easily. Others are difficult to locate or are just too thin causing standard needles to pierce through. Therefore, it is important for an aspiring phlebotomist to enroll with the best phlebotomy schools near me and receive the right training to find adequate veins more easily.

These hard to locate veins are often found in geriatric patients or children. However, such difficulty in finding veins can arise with any patient with a need for further assistance in blood extraction.

These patients are known as “hard sticks.” However, with the right training and tips, finding veins in these patients can be manageable.

Commonly Used Veins in Phlebotomy

Phlebotomists generally use 4 sites to draw blood from the patients. These are:

  • Median antecubital

  • Cephalic

  • Basilic

  • Dorsal hand Vein

While each of these veins is viable for blood extraction, phlebotomists must understand the potential risks associated with these sites.
Median Antecubital:

It is a common vein used by phlebotomists for drawing blood from a patient. This site is located in our inner arm or the anterior section of our elbow joint. When anchored for piercing, this vein shows up prominently. Moreover, blood, when drawn from this site, ensures minimal pain.

Cephalic Vein:

The cephalic vein can be found in the lateral section of one’s arm. It is the 2nd common blood draw site. This site is a safer alternative as compared to the median antecubital blood vein.

Basilic Vein:

A basilic vein can be found on your arm’s medial side. Blood extraction from this section of the arm does have a higher likelihood of a patient’s vein collapsing or rolling. This could lead to difficulty in anchoring. Moreover, the basilica vein is closer to one’s nerve and artery, making it a challenging task to draw blood from.

Dorsal Hand Vein:

As per phlebotomists, dorsal hand veins aren’t the first choice for blood extraction. However, they are just as good for blood drawing purposes. These veins can be found above your hand, close to the wrist & near the thumb.

What is the right way to find veins for drawing blood?

To find a patient’s vein, the first thing a phlebotomist has to do is to palpate the arm to look for a visible and prominent vein. Most veins aren’t visible instantly, and the only way to find them is via touching action. The right way to learn the tricks of finding a suitable vein is to enroll with the best phlebotomy classes near me.

When trying to find a vein, make sure you are gentle & locate a vein as opposed to an artery. Next, you need to use the tourniquet in order to anchor this vein you just found. As you tie the tourniquet, it’s better, to begin with, a loose tie and then goes tighter if needed. In case you go too tight right at the start, it could result in a loss of blood plasma which would then impact your test results. In case these steps don’t work, locating a new blood draw site might be important.

Tips to Find a Vein with Ease

If the method above doesn’t work, opt for the tips mentioned below to find a difficult vein.

Warm the site with heating pads:

Phlebotomists use this easy trick to enhance a vein’s visibility. However, the temperature needs to be kept in mind. The key is to warm up the area and not burn it.

Making a fist & then opening the hands:

Doing this allows phlebotomists to check out the exact site and help them feel out the vein.

Illuminating the Veins:

A phlebotomist can also locate a vein by directly lighting up the area using a flashlight as opposed to the generic ceiling light.

Seek assistance from other phlebotomists:

When it comes to medical treatment, practitioners should never shy away from seeking help or asking for suggestions. Depending on where you work, there could be several protocols in place to help you take things forward.

Let your patient relax & try again after 10 to 15 minutes:

Time is the best thing you can give your patient to aid the visibility of the veins. Let the patients relax for a bit, give them some water & then try after a couple of minutes to bring down the risks of injury.

Why are certain veins difficult to locate?

Finding veins for phlebotomists can be hard for several reasons. Certain patients are predisposed genetically to having difficulty locating veins. Of course, age also matters, and older individuals can have veins that are harder to find due to folds in the skin. Apart from this, if the patient is dehydrated, it can also make it difficult to locate the veins. A dehydrated patient would most likely experience rolling or collapsing veins. They could also have veins that are very small to locate easily.


It is important for a phlebotomist to learn the art from the best phlebotomy training near me and serve your patients well. Apart from the tips mentioned above, exercising the arms also works best for locating the vein. However, try not to exercise too vigorously. Few jumping jacks and bicep curls should do the trick.

Call to Action

Are you in search of the best phlebotomy schools near me to start your training process? Head over to Berry Best Phlebotomy Training Academy and enroll right away. Sign up for our AM, PM, or Saturday classes at your convenience and avail of our discounted courses. For further information, you can also get in touch with us at You can also call us at 520-325-9060.

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