Lancet Use

How to do a finger prick blood test using a lancet

Getting a good quality blood sample for testing is absolutely critical for accurate test results. Lancing correctly is not as simple as you may think, and a poor technique is the most common cause of erratic results. It's natural to blame the test kit or the meter if the results are not consistent, but more often than not its the poor quality or inadequate blood sample volume which are the reason for results not matching hospital tests.

Watch our 5 minute video guide on how to lance correctly, and get your technique mastered for long term success and reliable results for all home blood tests and meter strips requiring finger prick blood sampling.

Lancet use video

Frequently asked questions about using lancets and lancing devices to obtain blood samples 

Below we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions about using lancets and auto lancing devices that our customer support team are asked.

What is a blood lancet?

A blood lancet is a small, pointed medical instrument used to prick the skin, typically the fingertip, to obtain a small blood sample for various medical purposes, such as glucose monitoring or other blood tests.

Lancets are for sale here

How does a blood lancet work?

A blood lancet is designed to create a small puncture in the skin, allowing for the collection of a tiny blood sample. It usually features a sharp, sterile needle that is quickly and painlessly inserted into the skin to produce a droplet of blood.

What are blood lancets used for?

Blood lancets are primarily used for collecting capillary blood samples for diagnostic testing, particularly in glucose monitoring for conditions like diabetes. They are also used in various other blood tests and blood test meters where a small blood sample is sufficient. 

Are there different types of blood lancets?

Yes, there are various types of blood lancets, including traditional manual lancets and more advanced spring-loaded or retractable lancets. Lancets also come in different sizes.

Do blood lancets come in different sizes?

Yes, blood lancets come in different gauges or thicknesses of needles. Thicker needles may be more suitable for individuals with thicker skin, while thinner needles are often preferred for less pain in sensitive areas.

Do I need to wash my hands before using a blood lancet?

Here are a few reasons why washing your hands before handling medical devices, including lancing devices, is a good practice:

  1. Reducing Contamination: Hands can carry dirt, bacteria, or other contaminants. Washing your hands helps minimise the risk of introducing these contaminants to the lancing device, which may come into contact with your blood during the testing process.
  2. Promoting sterility: Clean hands contribute to a more sterile environment, which is crucial when dealing with devices that puncture the skin, even in a controlled and small manner like with lancets. Sterility is especially important to prevent infections.
  3. Good hygiene habits: Establishing a routine of washing your hands before handling medical devices is a good hygiene habit. It is particularly important when dealing with devices that come into contact with bodily fluids.

While washing your hands is advisable, if soap and water are not readily available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can be an alternative. The key is to ensure that your hands are clean to reduce the risk of introducing contaminants during the handling of medical devices.

Always follow any specific hygiene recommendations provided by healthcare professionals or the device manufacturer, as different situations and devices may have specific requirements. Additionally, refer to the instructions that come with your lancing device for any manufacturer-specific guidelines regarding hygiene practices.

How often should I change my lancet?

For hygiene reasons, it is recommended to use a new lancet for each blood sample. Reusing lancets increases the risk of infection and may cause more discomfort. Follow the guidelines provided by the lancet manufacturer.

Can I use someone else's lancet?

No, it is not advisable to share lancets. Each person should use their own lancet, and use it only once, to avoid the risk of cross-contamination and the transmission of bloodborne pathogens (infections like HIV, hepatitis etc)

Are blood lancets safe to use?

Blood lancets are generally safe when used as directed. It's crucial to follow proper hygiene practices, such as using a new lancet for each blood sample to minimise the risk of infection. Dispose of used lancets in designated sharps containers to prevent accidental needlestick injuries. 

A needlestick injury, also known as a percutaneous injury, is an accidental puncture or injury caused by a needle or other sharp medical device. These injuries typically occur when a healthcare worker or another individual comes into contact with a needle or sharp object that has been used on a patient. Needlestick injuries can result in the transfer of blood or other body fluids from the patient to the person who experiences the injury.

Where can I dispose of used lancets?

Used lancets should be disposed of in a puncture-resistant container, often referred to as a sharps container. Many pharmacies and healthcare facilities provide safe disposal options for used lancets.

What is a lancing device

A lancing device is a medical device designed for collecting capillary blood samples for diagnostic purposes, typically in glucose monitoring for conditions like diabetes. The device is used to puncture the skin, usually the fingertip, in order to obtain a small blood sample for testing glucose levels.

Key features of a lancing device include:

  1. Spring-loaded mechanism: Lancing devices often use a spring-loaded mechanism to quickly and precisely puncture the skin. This mechanism allows for consistent and controlled penetration depth.
  2. Adjustable depth settings: Many lancing devices come with adjustable depth settings, allowing the user to customise the depth of the lancet penetration. This feature is important because individuals may have different skin thicknesses or sensitivities.
  3. Trigger or release mechanism: Lancing devices typically have a trigger or release mechanism that is activated to puncture the skin. Some devices have a one-touch operation, making it easier for individuals to perform self-testing.
  4. Compatibility with lancets: Lancing devices are designed to be used with specific types of lancets. Lancets are small, sterile needles that are inserted into the lancing device for skin penetration.
  5. Safety features: Many lancing devices come with safety features to reduce the risk of accidental needlesticks. This may include mechanisms that retract the lancet after use, preventing further exposure.
  6. Ergonomic design: Lancing devices are often designed for ease of use, with ergonomic shapes and comfortable grips to facilitate self-testing.

Individuals with diabetes or other medical conditions that require regular finger prick blood monitoring often use lancing devices as part of their self-management routine. By using a lancing device, individuals can collect blood samples with minimal discomfort and in a controlled manner, making it easier to monitor and manage their health.

It's important to always follow the manufacturer's instructions for the specific lancing device you are using and to maintain proper hygiene practices when using lancing devices and lancets to reduce the risk of infection and ensure accurate blood sampling.

Do i need to use a lancing device with a lancet?

While it is possible to use a lancet without a lancing device, using a lancing device is generally recommended for several reasons:

  1. Consistent depth: Lancing devices are designed to control the depth of the lancet penetration. This is important for obtaining an adequate blood sample without causing unnecessary pain or discomfort. Without a lancing device, it may be more challenging to consistently achieve the correct depth.
  2. Ease of Use: Lancing devices are designed to be user-friendly, making it easier for individuals to perform self-testing. They often come with adjustable settings to control the depth of the lancet, and some devices have features like one-touch operation for added convenience.
  3. Safety: Lancing devices often have safety features, such as lancet retraction mechanisms, that help reduce the risk of accidental needlesticks and improve overall safety during the blood sampling process.
  4. Hygiene: Using a lancing device can enhance hygiene by minimizing the risk of contamination. Many lancing devices come with disposable caps or drums that can be changed between uses, ensuring a sterile environment for blood collection.
  5. Precision: Lancing devices are designed for precision, allowing users to target specific areas for blood collection. This is especially important for individuals who need to test frequently, such as those with diabetes.

While using a lancing device is recommended, there may be situations where it's not immediately available or practical. In such cases, a lancet can still be used manually, but it requires careful attention to ensure the proper depth and hygiene.

If you have concerns about using a lancing device or if you're unsure about the best method for your specific needs, it's always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for advice. They can provide guidance based on your individual health requirements and the specific purpose of blood sampling.

How do you insert the lancet into the lancing device?

Inserting a lancet into a lancing device is a straightforward process. Here are general steps that can guide you through the procedure:

Note: The specific steps may vary slightly depending on the brand and model of your lancing device. Always refer to the manufacturer's instructions for your particular device.

  1. Wash Your Hands: Before handling any diabetes or medical testing related equipment, it's essential to wash your hands thoroughly to maintain cleanliness.
  2. Prepare the lancing device: Make sure your lancing device is clean and in good working condition. If it has a depth-setting adjustment, set it to the desired depth according to your equipment provider's recommendation.
  3. Select a lancet: Choose a lancet that is compatible with your lancing device. Most lancing devices work with specific types of lancets, and they often come in preloaded drums or individual packaging.
  4. Remove the cap from the lancet: If the lancet has a protective cap, remove it. Some lancets come with a cover that you twist off, while others have a pull-off cap.
  5. Insert the lancet into the lancing device: If your lancing device uses preloaded drums, follow the device's instructions for inserting the drum. If your device uses individual lancets, insert the lancet into the designated slot or holder. The lancet should be inserted with the pointed end facing outward.
  6. Secure the lancet: Ensure that the lancet is securely in place. If your device has a cover or mechanism to hold the lancet in position, make sure it is properly engaged.
  7. Prepare for lancing: Set up your lancing device according to its instructions. This may involve cocking the device or preparing it for use.
  8. Perform the lancing: Follow the instructions for your lancing device to perform the lancing. Typically, this involves placing the device against the desired testing site (such as the side of the finger tip as shown in the video) and activating the trigger mechanism.
  9. Dispose of the lancet safely: After use, dispose of the used lancet in a designated sharps container. Never reuse lancets to prevent the risk of infection.

Always refer to the user manual or instructions provided by the manufacturer of your specific lancing device for accurate and detailed guidance. If you have any concerns or difficulties, don't hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider or the device manufacturer for assistance.

How to remove a lancet from the lancing device

The process of removing a lancet from a lancing device can vary depending on the specific model and brand of the lancing device. However, I can provide you with general steps that may apply to many lancing devices. Always refer to the manufacturer's instructions for your particular device for the most accurate guidance. Here are the typical steps:

  1. Wash your hands: While washing your hands before removing the lancet from the lancing device may not be a strict requirement, it is a good hygiene practice. Washing your hands helps reduce the risk of introducing any potential contaminants or bacteria to the lancing device or the area where you might handle the lancet.
  2. Ensure safety: Before removing the lancet, make sure the lancing device is not cocked or prepared for use. If there is a safety feature, ensure it is engaged to prevent accidental needlesticks.
  3. Inspect the lancing device: Check the lancing device to identify any release buttons, levers, or mechanisms designed for removing the lancet. Some lancing devices have a release button or lever that allows you to safely eject the lancet.
  4. Follow the lancing device's instructions: Refer to the user manual or instructions that came with your lancing device. The manufacturer's guidelines will provide specific information on how to remove the lancet safely.
  5. Activate the lancet release: If your lancing device has a specific button or lever for releasing the lancet, press or activate it according to the instructions. This action is typically done to disengage the lancet from the device.
  6. Dispose of the lancet safely: Once the lancet is released from the lancing device, carefully dispose of it in a designated sharps container. Do not attempt to reuse lancets to prevent the risk of infection.

Can I travel with blood lancets?

Yes, you can travel with blood lancets, but it's advisable to carry them in their original packaging to avoid any issues with security, and it may be advisable to get a note from your doctor. Be aware of and comply with local regulations regarding medical sharps during travel.

What is a sharps container?

A sharps container is a specialised, puncture-resistant container designed for the safe disposal of sharp objects, such as needles, syringes, lancets, and other medical instruments with sharp edges. The purpose of a sharps container is to prevent injuries and reduce the risk of infection that can occur when handling or disposing of used medical sharps.

You can obtain a sharps container or bin from various sources, and options may depend on your location and local regulations. 

In the UK, you can obtain sharps bins from various sources. Here are common places where you can find or acquire sharps bins in the UK:

  1. Pharmacies: Many pharmacies in the UK provide sharps bins for sale. You can purchase a sharps bin over the counter, and the pharmacy staff can provide information on proper disposal methods for used sharps.
  2. General Practitioner (GP) or private healthcare provider: Your GP or healthcare provider may offer sharps bins if you are undergoing treatments that involve the use of needles or lancets. They can also provide guidance on proper disposal procedures.
  3. Local Council or Health Authority: Contact your local council or health authority to inquire about sharps disposal programs. Some areas provide information on where to obtain sharps bins and may offer collection services.
  4. Medical Supply Stores: Stores that specialize in medical supplies may carry sharps bins. These stores often provide a range of sizes to meet different needs.
  5. Online retailers: Many online retailers in the UK offer sharps bins for purchase. You can find a variety of sizes and types to suit your requirements. Be sure to check product specifications and customer reviews before making a purchase.
  6. Prescription services: Some individuals with medical conditions requiring regular injections or blood testing may receive sharps bins as part of their prescription service. Check with your GP or pharmacy regarding your specific needs.

When obtaining a sharps container, consider the following:

  • Size: Choose a container that is appropriate for the amount of sharps waste you generate. Different sizes are available for personal or medical facility use.
  • Sealing mechanism: Ensure the container has a secure and tamper-resistant sealing mechanism to prevent accidental needlesticks.
  • Compliance with regulations: Be aware of local regulations regarding the disposal of sharps. Some areas may have specific guidelines on the type of container required.
  • Disposal services: Check if your local waste management authority provides specific instructions for disposing of full sharps containers.

Always follow the guidelines provided by your healthcare provider or local authorities regarding the disposal of sharps waste to ensure safety and compliance with regulations.

Lancet use information page last reviewed and updated by Dr Kate Garside 24/1/24

Collapsible content