It is likely for a person, as a patient, to experience at least one attempt at venous access annually. Access to veins is needed for intravenous therapy and blood draws. For those who have a fear of needles or who have had a negative experience in the past, receiving vital treatments can be a source of anxiety and pain when they are not effectively administered. For this reason, it is important to take charge of your health care by using these tips to educate yourself about the latest treatment techniques so that you can communicate with your caregiver.
Inform the Nurse of Your Concerns
When patients and their caregivers collaborate the patient will have a better experience. It is important to take the time to explain your past patient experiences to the nurse. For example, tell the nurse that you are a hard stick and offer suggestions for what has improved your experience in the past. Often, simply telling the nurse that you are nervous can help you to begin to feel better about your upcoming procedure.
Know the Risks
Any time that your skin is broken, there will be risks. If you are concerned, discuss the procedure and the possibilities of infection or complications with your medical caregiver. Remain on the lookout for techniques to reduce the number of needle sticks, and remember that wearing gloves and the use of antiseptics help to prevent infection. If you will be receiving IV therapy, then also be sure to find out about any side effects of the medication that will be administered.
Know When to Ask Them to Stop
The Infusion Nursing standards of practice stipulate that a nurse should be limited to two unsuccessful IV attempts. After this, another nurse may try two more times; however, you should always feel comfortable asking them to stop. The more anxious you are, the harder it may be for them to find a vein. If your nurses have had more than three or four unsuccessful attempts, then it may be time to try a different technique.
Try Applying Dry Heat
For many patients, the application of dry heat can help draw the blood to the surface and make veins stand out from the skin. Therefore, nurses will often use a heat pack over the puncture site. This simple method may take a few extra minutes but it can be very helpful in pluming up the veins or drawing more blood to the area. For pediatric patients, this can be especially helpful because the warmth can ease their nervousness as well.
Suggest Vein Illumination
Many patients may not realize that there is a new method available for helping to locate veins for venipuncture to help avoid unnecessary sticks. Using vein illumination, a nurse can shine a hand-held device over a patient’s skin to see a map of the vasculature. This reduces the odds of multiple sticks and can help those who are nervous about needles to relax. If you are have an upcoming procedure, you can ask beforehand if your medical facility uses vein illumination.
Try to Relax
Nobody likes having a medical procedure performed; however your mindset can greatly influence the success of your nurse finding the right vein. Relax your muscles and take a deep breathe before the procedure. Hold still so that your nurse will not miss the vein once it has been located. Although a needle stick will always be slightly unpleasant, there are many ways to make venipuncture easier for you and your caregiver. By educating yourself about the latest techniques in vein illumination along with learning a few methods for relaxation and communication, you will be able to work better with your caregiver to ensure you receive the highest quality of care.