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Paediatric capillary blood gas sampling [advanced]

Please note this information is for educational purposes only and procedures should not conducted based on this information. OSCEstop and authors take no responsibility for errors or for the use of any content.


  • Wash hands, Introduce self, Patients name & DOB, Explain procedure and obtain consent form parents (or child if appropriate)
Paediatric capillary blood gas equipment

Preparation part

  • Wash hands  
  • Clean tray
  • Gather equipment around tray (think through what you need in order)

Equipment list

  • Gloves
  • Vaseline (if available)
  • Alcohol 70%/chlorhexidine 2% skin cleansing wipe
  • Sterile lancet/puncture system
  • Capillary sample collection tube (with bungs and magnet rod)
  • Cotton gauze swabs
  • Tape

  • Wash hands
  • Open packets and place equipment neatly in tray in plastic parts of packets
  • Return to patient (with tray and sharps bin)

Patient part


  • Wash hands and apply gloves
  • Identify appropriate site:
    • Lateral or medial plantar heel (in young infant)
    • Medial or lateral border of finger pulp (in older child)
  • Apply Vaseline to area if available (to prevent blood globule dispersing in skin ridges)
  • Warm the area
  • If using the foot, hold the ankle dorsiflexed with one hand
  • Sterilise area ā€“ wipe in spiral motion working outwards and wait 30 seconds for it to dry


  • Puncture skin with lancet/puncture system (then drop into sharps bin)
  • Wipe off the first drop of blood with cotton gauze
  • Once a blood globule has built up, holding the sample collection tube horizontally, press the end gently onto the globule of blood until the blood enters the tube
  • Then move the collection tube away until the next globule has accumulated, then press the end onto the globule again
  • Repeat this until the tube is filled
  • Tips:
    • If blood if not forming freely, gently massage the area to encourage blood flow and gently squeeze the lower leg/ankle or digit (but let the capillaries refill intermittently)
    • Intermittently dab the area with cotton gauze swab to prevent coagulation of any blood left near the puncture site
    • There must not be any air bubbles in the tube or the gas machine will not be able to analyse it ā€“ keep the tube horizontal at all times to avoid this
  • Once tube is full
    • Insert magnet rod into one end and place a bung on each end, then mix by inverting it slowly and label it with a patient ID sticker
    • Place gauze over the puncture site and tape down or apply plaster

To complete

  • Thank patient and cover them
  • Take sample to blood gas analyser immediately
    • Remove bungs
    • Place adaptor onto one end to allow insertion into blood gas analyser
    • Enter patient information and await printed results
  • Bin waste and gloves, clean tray and wash hands
  • Document procedure and results in patients notes

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