Background and Objective Premature and sick neonates are exposed to numerous painful procedures during the NICU period. Heelstick is the most frequent procedure for blood sampling. The pricking and squeezing necessary to collect blood from heelstick are painful stimuli. Venipuncture is a less painful and more effective method of collecting blood for analysis. Non-pharmalogical pain relief methods such as swaddling, containment and pacifier with sucrose are included in the preparations for the procedure. If possible, the procedure should be performed after feeding
To reduce painful stimuli for the babies, a procedure for venipuncture was developed. Scalp veins were chosen as they are available and facilitate the procedure with minimum disturbance.
Method Nurses were instructed and systematically trained in performing venipuncture. Both the venipuncture, and the role of the assisting nurse in providing pain relief, were stressed. No extra resources were provided. To evaluate the procedure, a compulsory questionnaire was administered to the nurses.
Results Nurses were overall positive when evaluating the procedure. Despite the workload added, nurses appreciate the pain-reducing effect in venipuncture compared with heelstick. Nurses also perform the venipuncture at the most favourable time for the baby. Average time needed to perform venipuncture was 11–15 minutes and did not differ with experience.
Conclusion In nurses’ opinion, venipuncture seems to be a less painful method for blood collection. The procedure requires resources as one nurse offers pain relief by containment, swaddling and a pacifier with sucrose, while the other nurse performs the venipuncture.