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Capillary Blood Sampling

  • Capillary Blood Sampling is a way of doing a blood test. It is sometimes referred to as a 'finger prick' or a 'heel prick'. The finger or heel is pricked with a small handheld device. Blood is collected into small collection tubes and sent to the laboratory ('the lab') for tests. 

    Reason for the procedure

    If the lab only needs a small amount of blood, or if the doctor specifically asks for it.

    What should I expect

    Some children will say they can only feel a small prickle and say 'ouch'. Other children will say it hurts.

    How can I help my child?

    While the blood is being collected, you can hold your child close to provide comfort and support. Staff will advise you on the best way to hold and comfort your child.  Talking in a calm, encouraging voice and trying to distract your child can help reduce any anxiety over getting a needle or finger/heel prick. Using distraction techniques such as getting your child to look at a book, the colourful pictures on walls, singing and blowing bubbles can be very successful.

    Can I stay with my child?

    We encourage parents to cuddle their children during blood collection. It gives the child a sense of safety and security. If you cannot stay, a member of staff will hold your child.

    Can all blood tests be done by capillary puncture?

    It depends on the amount of blood that is needed for testing. We can take up to 2mls of blood from a capillary collection. Any more blood than this needs to taken from a vein. Some blood tests can only be taken from a vein.

    More information


    Produced in consultation with the RCH Laboratory Services and Procedural Pain and Sedation team, Clinical Quality & Safety. First published July 2006. Updated November 2010.


This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.