Lead may be found on surfaces touched by children and adults. Lead may be present in the paint that was used in older homes or apartments, and it has even been detected in the paint used on some toys.
Elevated lead levels in children can cause developmental delays. Many state governments closely monitor the presence of lead in children. To accomplish this, government agencies require official forms be completed and submitted for each patient at the time of specimen collection for lead testing. It is the responsibility of both the phlebotomist and healthcare provider to submit the completed form with the specimen. If an elevated lead level is obtained, the government authority can then track and monitor follow-up treatment for the patient.
When the phlebotomist determines that a capillary puncture on the finger will be used to collect a specimen for lead testing, it is imperative that the patient's hands be washed with soap and water prior to the start of the collection to ensure the skin is free of any contaminant that could falsely elevate the test result. The patient should thoroughly wash his or her hands or if the patient is a child, the parent or guardian could be asked to assist the child. If necessary, wash the patient's hands yourself.
It is important to note that washing hands with soap and water aids in removing surface lead but is not a substitute for the cleaning step in the blood collection procedure. The finger must still be cleansed with alcohol and allowed to dry before a dermal puncture is made.