Venepuncture and phlebotomy: animated demonstration

How to take a venous blood sample from the antecubital fossa using a vacuum needle.

Equipment needed

  • Non-sterile gloves

  • Tourniquet (ideally disposable)

  • Alcohol wipe

  • Cotton wool/gauze swabs

  • Vacutainer barrel, or syringe

  • Green 21-gauge or blue 23-gauge needle, or vacutainer needle

  • Sample bottles including blood culture specimen bottles if required

  • Sticky tape

  • Sharps container.


If the lucid and coherent patient refuses blood tests, do not perform venepuncture.

Other contraindications to venepuncture include:

  • Ipsilateral arteriovenous fistula or arteriovenous malformation

  • Ipsilateral axillary surgery or radiotherapy

  • Ipsilateral lymphoedema

  • Local infection or cellulitis

  • Severe bleeding tendency or coagulopathy.


In general, you can use blood tests to:

  • Diagnose conditions (together with the clinical history and exam findings)

  • Monitor responses to therapy and adverse effects with treatment

  • Monitor patients in the perioperative period

  • Screen for diseases

  • Monitor for recurrence of disease.


  • Temporary pain and discomfort

  • Bruising, bleeding, and formation of a hematoma

  • Local infection

  • Arterial puncture

  • Failure to obtain an adequate sample.


Press on the puncture site for a sufficient amount of time to stop bleeding. Apply a sticking plaster or cotton wool and tape to the puncture site.

Carefully label all samples and request forms and dispose of all sharps and other items in a sharps bin or clinical waste bin.