Specimen Collection Station – A Guide to Having a Blood Test
Mount Sinai Clinical Labs offer a blood drawing service, for patients who have been referred by their doctor. Appointments are available. In the absence of appointments, patients will be served on a first- come-first-served basis, except in emergency.
Please come prepared
By wearing sleeves that roll up
Bringing a test order (requisition or prescription) completed by your doctor that contains diagnosis codes (ICD-10).
Bringing your insurance card.
Fasting when required, e.g. Lipid Profile and Glucose tests.
Fasting – what does it mean?
If your doctor has requested a fasting blood test, this means that for 10 to 12 hours before the blood test and until after the blood is collected you should not:
- Eat food
- Drink anything other than water
- Chew gum (including sugar-free gum)
- Eat mints or cough drops
However, you may:
- Drink plain water
Take prescribed medication, with water, before the test unless directed otherwise by your doctor. If you are on medications that are taken with food, or if you are diabetic, please seek advice from your doctor.
How long will this procedure take?
The drawing of blood takes approximately 5 minutes. However, some tests might take longer, e.g. Glucose Tolerance Test takes approximately 4 hours. For routine blood work, our goal is to take no longer than 20 minutes, including wait time.
How is a blood sample taken?
The procedure is performed by a a phlebotomist, a member of our staff especially trained to draw blood,. A tourniquet will be placed around your arm just above the elbow and the skin will be cleaned. A sterile needle will be inserted into the vein near the elbow. In most instances, the phlebotomist will use the best vein possible.
Blood will be drawn into a sample tube(s) and the needle removed. Pressure will be applied at the site with a piece of gauze until the bleeding has stopped and then a latex free compression bandage applied.
Is it a new needle?
The phlebotomist will always use a new sterile needle and remove the cover before taking your blood sample. Once your sample has been taken you will see the phlebotomist dispose of the needle into a container for sharp objects.
Will it hurt?
The initial insertion of the needle involves a pin prick sensation but after that the rest of the procedure should be quite painless. On rare occasions some patients experience discomfort following the procedure. This usually settles quite quickly.
Will it bruise?
Rarely a small bruise or lump (hematoma) may develop after taking a sample of blood. Applying firm pressure to the site until the bleeding has stopped should help to minimize this. Bruising is harmless and will disperse with time and does not usually require treatment. Some conditions may increase the risk of bruising. These include:
- Medications such as Warfarin or aspirin
- Conditions such as a bleeding disorder or low platelets (thrombocytopenia)
- Where it is difficult to locate the vein, for example if the arm is swollen (edema)
- Elderly patients may also bruise more easily In order to reduce this risk as much as possible, please tell the phlebotomist taking the blood if you have any such conditions or if you have previously experienced problems following blood taking.
What happens if I feel dizzy or faint?
Fainting while your blood is being drawn does not occur frequently. If you are prone to fainting, tell the phlebotomist who is drawing your blood prior to the procedure. Our staff is trained to handle adverse reactions.
What happens to the blood samples?
The samples are processed in the Laboratory and the results sent to your doctor who requested the sample to be taken.
How do I get my results?
Results are available from your doctor. We do not give results directly to patients, as it is usually necessary for your doctor to interpret the results together with the clinical findings.
If you have any questions about the phlebotomy procedure, please ask a member of our staff or your doctor.