Neonatal sampling essentials

Preparation for heel capillary blood sampling 

Preparation procedure prior to heel puncture

  • Consult institutional guidelines for specific information on the type of test being performed
  • Gather all the equipment needed which may include gloves, alcohol pads, clean gauze, safety lancets, bandages, blood collection paper, capillary tubes or other capillary blood collection tubes and a biohazard sharps container
  • Identify the infant/baby according to patient safety standards which requires asking the parent or guardian to verify a minimum of two identifiers such as last name, first name and date of birth of the infant/baby
  • Consider warming the puncture site to facilitate blood flow when the site is cold or if a larger blood volume is required for testing
  • Cover the puncture site with a warming device (commercial device or warm, moist towel) not to exceed a maximum temperature of 42°C or 107°F2. Be careful not to scald the infant/baby
  • Disinfect the site according to institutional guidelines. If alcohol is used ensure it has completely air-dried before puncture (do not wipe the site dry). This will help to avoid haemolysis of the specimen which may cause inaccurate results and/or the need to re-collect the specimen1,2
  • Preparation of the site is now complete and ready for puncture and sampling
Gather all the equipment needed which may include gloves, alcohol pads, clean gauze, safety lancets, bandages, blood collection paper, capillary tubes or other capillary blood collection tubes and a biohazard sharps container.

Expert Tip

The equipment needed is based on institutional guidelines, patient age and body mass, volume of blood needed and specific test requirements

These materials have been produced in consultation with key opinion leaders and follow global guidelines, but the user should use his or her professional judgement when using any technique or method described in these materials and should take into account all applicable national, regional and institutional guidelines and regulations.

1. Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) document GP42-A6 (former H04-A6): Procedures and Devices for the Collection of Diagnostic Capillary Blood Specimens; Approved Standard – Sixth Edition. Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute; Wayne, Pennsylvania, USA: 2008. 2. WHO guidelines on drawing blood: best practices in phlebotomy. World Health Organisation; 2010.