The product used most often to cleanse and disinfect the site prior to venipuncture is 70% isopropyl alcohol in towelette form. Alternative cleansing agents available are chlorhexadine gluconate (chloraprep) and povidone-iodine which are used mainly for collection of blood cultures, blood alcohol specimens, or when the patient is sensitive to alcohol.
The alcohol should be applied using a circular target motion, as demonstrated in the image. This technique pushes the bacteria away from the inside of the venipuncture site to the outside. The alcohol must be allowed to air dry for approximately one minute prior to venipuncture to properly disinfect site, prevent hemolysis of the specimen, and avoid discomfort for the patient.
Gauze should be used when applying pressure to the venipuncture site immediately after the needle is withdrawn. Adequate pressure to stop bleeding is crucial to avoid formation of a hematoma or bruise. Cotton balls should not be used to apply pressure to stop bleeding because the clot formed may be dislodged by residual cotton fibers as the cotton ball is pulled away from the site.
Paper tape or a bandage is used to cover the wound after bleeding has stopped to prevent disruption of the clot.