Difficulty with getting blood samples- hypo. symptom?

Is difficulty getting blood samples a hypo.symptom? The practice nurse cannot get blood from my left arm now and after only a couple of times can't get blood from my right arm either. Eventually she was able to draw some from my right hand using a fine needle but this was extremely painful and I am dreading going to see her now. I am concerned that she was taking blood from my left arm for years but only twice from my right - she isn't worried about it but should I be? I am wondering if there is something wrong with my veins. I am hypo. but have been told I don't have any anti-bodies but I did have a 2 hour pelvic operation 3 months ago.

18 Replies

The lady who takes blood at my surgery is a genius and I don't have all the problems with her that I had most of my life with my 'bad veins' but she made some suggestions which work really well. (Apologies if you've heard it all before but no one had ever told me this stuff before and it would have saved me so much discomfort so now I tell everyone I know!)

1) Make sure you're very well-hydrated. Since I've been drinking a lot of water before my appt I've never had a problem.

2) Make sure you're warm and have had a little bit of brisk exercise before your appt. She suggests a walk around the block before taking blood.

Since I've been following her instructions I haven't had the same kind of trouble even when other people take my blood.

Dare I say it is possible that your phlebotomist isn't up to much. I've had some really terrible experiences with people who it turns out just weren't very good.

Good luck! x

I don't present a challenge to blood-takers - but agreed with our flat-tyred friend, water, warmth and walk. A good brisk walk down the corridor is possibly enough.


I had an awful experience years ago with someone who was terrible, in the end she kept raising the needle without actually taking it out of my skin then sort of pushing it into the vein somewhere different.

When that didn't work she then got another nurse to have a go, same sort of scenario by the time they had finished they had tried both arms (good job I wasn't squeamish) needless to say they still got nowhere, then one of them patted me and told me I had fat arms and to go back to my doctor! Total rot. My arms were not fat, they were just useless.

I was told when I used to give blood that the arm you write with can sometimes be easier to get blood out of so might be worth trying to remember that.

Punctured bicycle is right - big drink of water before you start so that you are hydrated and being warm makes sense too.

Some phlebotomist are just amazing at getting blood though - makes such a difference when you get one of them. Good luck :-)

Yes, I've had the poking experience too. I won't tolerate it any more. I met a phlebotomist at a party and she said you're not suppose to move the needle around once it has been inserted; you're meant to take it out and start again if necessary. I'll put up with a small amount of maneuvering but if they're messing about wiggling the needle around uselessly I stop them and ask for someone else. If more patients did it they'd have to improve their technique.

I once had someone say - not a word of a lie - "It's a good job your skin is so light or I wouldn't have even found that vein" - !! Goodness knows what you were meant to do if you had dark skin. Not acceptable really. "I'm a phlebotomist but I only can only manage to get blood from white people."

Way back then I didn't used to look so it was only when I thought about it all later I realised what she had been doing.

Fancy saying that! Like you say how on earth did that person manage with dark skinned people!

We have got really amazing phlebotomist a at out practise, I was worried when my favourite one left but her replacement is great too.

I know, horrible right?? I'm sure that woman had no idea that what she was saying was an admission of her own limitations.

If you let someone do their job, there's no reason to think about questioning them - I don't look either when my blood is taken - but after an awful lot of very uncomfortable wiggling of the needle I had to say something. And immediately someone else (the person who I realise now was 'observing' the guy who was doing the test, who must have been new) stepped in and did it, so now I know better than to just sit there clenched up while someone is digging at my arm. I spent a lot of years just putting up with it, but once you have a good phlebotomist and you know it is a matter of skill not exceptionally bad veins, I feel I'm entitled to say 'enough'.

It makes a tremendous difference to have someone good, esp when you need regular tests.

Too right, that was thirty years ago when I was young and innocent! Not like that any more.

You dont have to be worried about using the same arm all the time, I have used the same arm for 30 years and it is now very easy to get blood out as there is scar tissue and the vein doesn't collaps. I have spoke to many nurses and GPs about it and they have no concerns.


Hi, the nurse had problems with my veins in my left arm - I'm right handed hence my left arm has always been used for blood draws. However I've switched to my right arm as the veins have hardened in my left and have made it more difficult for the nurses to take blood from.

I've now got this problem in my right! I knew of this because it was very painful and it felt as though the needle had gone right through my elbow! It was so painful I accidentally pulled on my arm and blood went everywhere. :( So I said to the nurse try the left one and she got another vein up after tightening the tourniquet round it. No pain at all either.

So I think it depends. I think my veins have had enough of blood draws. They must see the needle and think "that's it I'm outta here, I'm not gonna work for these people". ;)

I think it just depends. I'm not sure. I do have plasma viscosity problems however. :o

Jo xxx

Thanks Jo - This is exactly my problem veins have hardened and thrombosed - what concerns me is that this has happened to my left arm after three attempts. What is your plasma viscosity problem?

Hi Jan

My plasma viscosity is a little high from a blood test result done back in May. It was 1.9000 m.Pa.s (normal range 1.4-1.8 according to a website but GP labs vary). It does say at the side of that - GP comment: RAISED LEVEL. They do plasma viscosity when conducting a complete blood test.

I'm going to raise this with my GP tomorrow as I wrote a letter to them about all of the other results that have flagged up from the same test.

Hope this helps

Jo xxx

Hi It all depends on your veins and how hopeless the nurse is! Always drink a glass of water about an hour or less before test. I expect you know to not take any thyroid drugs or Beta Blockers before the test. If all else fails you can have a topical local anaethetic cream prescribed for an hour before the test.

Some people can take blood, others and not.!I have many, every week.

Best wishes,


Thanks Jackie - Would taking Thyro. Drugs before test affect my veins or just the TSH reading?

Hi Just the results and Beta Blockers the same, only drugs, always take them immediately post blood, if due. I had a specialist cancer phlebotomist yesterday,( private test) she gave up!


Ask whoever is taking your blood to try a butterfly needle. My husband has virtually no useable veins due to chemo treatment but they always manage with the above.

The nurse tried to use a butterfly needle in my arm but still couldn't get any blood so had to get some from my hand which was very painful as it was near the bone. I have thin arms!

nurse cannot get my blood from my arms and said she will have to take it from my hand. i am so frightened of needles, i dont know what to do. they had another nurse there who has now left she never had any problems

Hi im having the same problem its very hard to get any blood in the doctors but when i went to a+e twice the nurse was able to get it no problem im kinda worried i do drink water before my appointment an i walk to the doctors as well

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