Vein Palpation

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Routine Venipuncture. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

Learn more about Routine Venipuncture (online CE course)
Vein Palpation

A skilled phlebotomist relies more on touch or feel than on sight when determining a vein suitable for venipuncture. Palpation is used to assess the depth, width, direction and health (resilience) of a vein.

Use the index or middle finger to palpate the vein following this procedure:

  • Align your finger in the direction of the vein
  • Press on top of the vein with enough pressure to depress the skin
  • Keep your finger in contact with the skin so that you may feel the "bounce back" of a resilient, healthy vein.
Assessing a vein by palpation before attempting a venipuncture increases the possibility of a successful venipuncture.

The image on the following page illustrates the considerations for vein assessment.