Updated: Feb 27, 2020
Published Apr 13, 2014
I am a phlebotomy student in clinical right now. I am concerned about an accidental artery stick. A man came in the PSC for blood work and I went through the speech about being a student and I asked him if it was okay to draw his blood. He said it was fine but that he needed to be laying down. We are connected to a doctors office so the other phlebotomist (my actual phlebotomist preceptor was at lunch) took him to one of the available rooms. She already selected the vein for me and it was the basilic vein. I began to draw like any other time but the angle was different and I accidentally hit the artery. I didn't realize it until I looked at how bright the blood was. I didn't say anything at the time because I didn't want to frighten an already sensitive patient. She checked to see if he had stopped bleeding and bandaged him up before she knew it was an artery after we all left the room I told her I think I hit an artery. She did not say anything to me and did not seem concerned. I'm running all the worse case scenarios in my head. I'm scared that he did not receive adequate enough pressure. Should I be concerned? I'm so worried about this I can't sleep. Please help!
Lev, MSN, RN, NP
As long as you put pressure for long enough it should be fine. Was it bleeding through the gauze? If not, it was fine. Happens to everyone at some point. Remember to palpate for the vein, even if your instructor selected it for you. The arteries are hard and veins are bouncy.
Here.I.Stand, BSN, RN
Lev is right ^^^ Those needles are tiny, so it's not like you need to hold pressure for 10 minutes; it had stopped bleeding. And it won't affect his results being arterial vs. venous blood (except blood gases which I'm assuming since he wasn't inpatient); we get labs from arterial lines all the time in the ICU. RNs do arterial sticks where I'm at too.
He's fine. Go to sleep.
I palpated before I stuck and it was a vein there but somehow I missed it. I rerouted the needle and that was when I hit the artery. The patient did not bleed through the gauze but I am scared that the artery may have been still bleeding and not the area around his skin. During class they tell you all these horror stories and with my luck I'm terrified I just caused one. I keep reading that you need to apply pressure for at least 5 minutes if you hit an artery and I know it wasn't 5 minutes in this patient's case. Do they make accidental artery sticks out to be worse than they really are? I just need a little piece of mind.
Thanks for your comments :)
AgentBeast, BSN, RN
LOL, dude will be fine.
blondy2061h, MSN, RN
In al honesty, you may not have even hit the artery. Some people just have different hues of red blood color. Just because it was bright res doesn't mean it was an artery. Did it squirt when you took the needle out?
Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN
Breathe ! You actually probably didn't stick the artery unless you were deep. Yes you need to be careful. But you would know pretty quick if they where bleeding ((HUGS))
I once started an IV on a superficial aberrant artery. How did I know? The blood pulsated up the tubing. Art line anyone?
As long as the guy wasn't bleeding prior to you leaving the room, you should be fine.
By the way, don't worry if you hit the artery or not... should that patient need blood draw for ABG, ya got it!
Esme12 said:Breathe ! You actually probably didn't stick the artery unless you were deep. Yes you need to be careful. But you would know pretty quick if they where bleeding ((HUGS))I once started an IV on a superficial aberrant artery. How did I know? The blood pulsated up the tubing. Art line anyone?
I had that happen to me when I was the patient. The blood kept backing up the tubing until they finally clamped it off. When they took it out the blood literally squirted to the ceiling. I was like, "Too bad you don't need an ABG!"
nrsang97, BSN, RN
I have started an IV in the artery by accident too. Too bad the guy didn't need an art line. WOW did it squirt. I had a mess on the floor.
RN's that have been trained can do art sticks where I work as well.
OP you didn't do any harm.
BTDT. I was sticking an IV and thoght it was venous. When I pulled the needle out of the iv cath, the blood squirted across the room!
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