A skilled phlebotomist relies more on touch or feel than on sight when determining a vein suitable for venipuncture. Palpation is used to assess the depth, width, direction and health (resilience) of a vein.
Use the index or middle finger to palpate the vein following this procedure:
- Align your finger in the direction of the vein
- Press on top of the vein with enough pressure to depress the skin
- Keep your finger in contact with the skin so that you may feel the "bounce back" of a resilient, healthy vein.
Assessing a vein by palpation before attempting a venipuncture increases the possibility of a successful venipuncture.
The image on the following page illustrates the considerations for vein assessment.