Getting the confidence and skill to hit the jugular vein can feel like climbing Mt. Everest. It can be incredibly intimidating and might leave you wondering if you will ever succeed at it. Sticking a needle into a patient's neck is as scary as it sounds. However, if you are equipped with the next pointers, you are sure to rock your next jugular blood draw.1. Be prepared
Gather your supplies, making sure you have the correct syringe and needle, blood tube and labels. Just in case, grab the clippers and a bottle of isopropyl alcohol. As always, grab extra supplies because you know if you don't, you will end up needing them. You must start off on the right foot with the right supplies.
2. Be confident
Take a few deep breaths, chant a little mantra, and do whatever it takes to feel confident. Block out any negativity. You CAN do this!
Imagine the vein in your head and a full vial of blood. You have every capability to get this blood drawn.
4. Try different positions
You may have only been taught one way to get blood from a jugular vein, but in practice you have the freedom to choose your position. Politely direct your restrainer to position the animal in a way that is comfortable for you and safe for the pet and restrainer. You may want to twist the neck to one side, use the burrito method for a cat, or try it sideways.
5. Find and feel the jugular
After visualizing the vein in your head, now you should be able to find it and feel it. Change your pressure if it is not working properly. You may be pressing too hard or too lightly. Next, close your eyes. If you can't feel it, just remember the anatomy for jugular veins…. if it's supposed to be there, it probably is.
6. Find the cowlick
If you can't feel the jugular, most dogs will have a nice little cowlick and the jugular sites behind this twist of fur. Perhaps this has been an evolutionary target just for techs. Use it to your advantage!
7. Try bending the needle for cats
Cat jugulars tend to be somewhat shallow, therefore crafty techs around the globe will bend the needle to make it work. Ask for assistance or a demonstration on this technique before giving it a whirl.
Always ask the owner first if it is ok to shave a small area on the neck to better visualize the vein. If the owners have some weird attachment to their pet’s hair, then try alcohol.
9. Alcohol is your friend
Isopropyl alcohol that is! Alcohol is good to clear any debris, flatten the hair and it will cause vasodilation. Please be sure upon returning the animal to the exam room that you explain to the owner why the pet has a saturated neck.
10. Pull the skin down
For some, pulling the skin of the neck downward will also help to visualize the vein.
11. Take your time
Don’t worry about the restrainer, the doctor, the owner, what time it is or your overly hungry belly. Get in your zone and do not let anyone or anything distract you. You will get quicker with time.
12. Poke with confidence
A shaky, unstable and slow hand will only add more difficulty. A strong, confident and quick poke will help get the needle through the vein.
Hitting the jugular vein takes time, patience and confidence. Hopefully these tips will help you rock your next jugualr blood draw!
What has been your best piece of advice with regard to jugular blood draws?