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The Fearful Child - Reducing Distress During Blood Collection


Pediatric Blood Collection

fearful childWhen it comes to pediatric patients undergoing venipuncture, it should be every phlebotomist's top goal to reduce these children's fear, pain, and distress. Almost all children have a natural fear of needles, but studies show that age is a significant factor in how they behave, their level of distress, fear, and perception of pain.

Calming The Fearful Child...

It should come as no surprise that the use of physical restraint, such as the child being placed on the parent's lap and tightly held down, will often add fuel to the fire! Forceful restraint only increases the child's negative response and psychological suffering. However, there are certain techniques that make the process easier. One is working calmly as a team, and proceeding at a steady pace as quickly as possible. See 1 year old Jessica's blood draw that goes over quite well despite of her fear.

Watch this short phlebotomy video clip!

Click here!
attention ATTENTION: Please realize that this video (published from YouTube) is NOT HERE TO TEACH you phlebotomy techniques, but merely to show you different scenarios of the phlebotomist's daily routine. The video may contain techniques, or procedures that do not conform to proper, and safe venipuncture protocol. Viewer discretion is strongly advised.


Helping a Child That's Scared

When a child's level of distress in anticipation of the venipuncture procedure is on the rise, it can be a rather difficult task for the phlebotomist and parent to make the blood collection process go over smoothly.

Physically restraining a fearful child during the venipuncture procedure is in no way an ideal situation and could be a disaster in the making! Rather, when dealing with a fearful child, it is best to try to control fearful rejection and manage defensive behavior through parental coaching, distraction, and positive reinforcement.

Distraction during painful procedures were proven to serve as an effective means of intervention. Therefore, a considerate phlebotomist will proceed by incorporating gentle touch and speaking in a soft voice while coaching, distracting, and comforting the upset child. Toys and sounds can also be effective and practical means to reduce a child's fear, and this, in turn, will also ease the parent's distress. Parents should also be encouraged to participate in the preparation of the child in a meaningful manner. It has a positive impact on the child if the parent remains cool, calm, and collected, uses encouragement, positive reinforcement, and appropriate distraction techniques. The parent's location, i.e. where the parent is in the room in relation to the child, can also make a significant difference when it comes to gaining the child's trust and cooperation.

Interestingly, although the above mentioned is a very simple approach to greatly reduce a child's distress, and the parent's and phlebotomist's stress during venipuncture, it is not always routinely used everywhere there is blood to be drawn! If you are among those phlebotomists who want to grow personally and professionally, and lean how to better handle such and other challenges related drawing blood from children and using distraction to reduce reported pain, fear, and behavioral distress in children and adolescents"visit NBCI PubMed!

A Tip From the Pros:

blood drop bullet Kids aren't as afraid of "mosquito bites" as they are of needles. Winged collection sets look a lot like a giant mosquito drinking cherry Kool Aid. Most kids do geat if they can relate to experience to something they understand. -- Heather Bridges

blood drop bullet Never tell a pediatric patient that the stick will not hurt. Be honest, and when the child does feel the stick it won't come as a shock. This way they handle the procedure a lot better. -- Anonymous


  Blood - The Fluid of Life
  The Blood Panel
  Steps of Blood Collection
  Vacutainer® Blood Collection
  Syringe Blood Collection
  Butterfly Needle Collection
  Capillary Blood Collection
  Child Venipuncture
  Child Finger Stick
  Infant Heel Stick
  Needle Phobia
  Venipuncture Vocabulary
  Phlebotomy Study Sheets
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