• Bug's Avatar

    Using the correct arm for tests

    Asked by Bug on Sunday, May 5, 2013

    Using the correct arm for tests

    I had two lymph nodes removed and was told not to have my blood pressure taken on that arm nor to have blood drawn from that arm. (Of course, if it is an emergency situation then I should do what I need to do.)

    I had a colonoscopy recently. I told everyone connected with the procedure which arm to use for taking my BP, etc., and why. One of the nurses hung an orange 8½ X 11 piece of paper on the IV stand with a note on it in large, bold letters about using a certain arm. Another nurse came in and before I could mention the situation to her she approached the wrong arm and tried to take my blood pressure. I asked her not to and told her the story. She was totally fine with it, of course, and said she didn’t see the IV stand.

    Any suggestions on how to deal with this sort of thing? If I had been asleep the nurse might have used the wrong arm. A friend suggested I wear a medic alert bracelet. BTW, I love nurses and I’m not knocking them. I had terrific care that day.

    14 Answers from the Community

    14 answers
    • Ydnar2xer's Avatar

      I wear a medic alert bracelet that is beautiful--It has 3 strands of beads on it as well as the tag. I got it online. I would wear that, and put my lymphedema sleeve on as well. That should clue them in!

      BTW, check out lymphadivas--my sleeve is LEOPARD! Good luck!

      over 7 years ago
    • SandiD's Avatar

      My hospital puts a warning band on that arm. I recently broke my hand connected to that arm and there was much discussion about it. I have it written on an Emergency Card in my wallet too. It is not like we would die or anything if they poke or cuff this arm, but it could increase our risk of lymphadena. So I think we have to try to be careful, but not worry obsessively. A bracelet is a good idea. I tried that for awhile, but it just got in my way. Maybe insist on a warning band for that arm next time you are hospitalized or write on that arm! Good luck!

      over 7 years ago
    • lilnursey's Avatar

      I am a nurse and when I go into hospital my dr told me to take a sharpie and write on my am do not use

      over 7 years ago
    • Honeypot's Avatar

      I was also told not to have a flu jab in that arm. However, I have never had one and
      dont propose to have one anyway as I take homeopathy if I get a sore throat and it
      goes away, but I thought that people should also know this. I was told by the Consultant.

      over 7 years ago
    • bballmomma's Avatar

      Anytime I go in the hospital, the nurses always put a red band on the wrist of the arm no activity is to be done and it really seems to work. I've not had any issues.

      over 7 years ago
    • gwendolyn's Avatar

      I was in the hospital last week and was wondering the same thing. One of the first things I asked for was a sign over my bed. The nurse created a very conspicuous red and black one indicating no blood draws or BP on right side. Still, as various people came in to check my vitals often they would approach on the right side (the side where the BP cuff was) and I would have to say something. Those automatic BP cuffs get really tight and I've already had more problems with lymphedema than I ever wanted!

      I was thinking some kind of conspicuous marker on the arm itself would be more helpful. Something more obvious than a medic alert bracelet because I doubt nurses read those before checking vitals. If the hospital doesn't offer a conspicuous warning wrist band I was thinking of creating my own or writing on my arm (as a last resort, see my earlier post about finding being written on degrading.) I'd be interested in learning suggestions from others here. Thanks for posting my question!

      over 7 years ago
    • gwendolyn's Avatar

      This is an interesting product: http://g-sleeve.com/

      over 7 years ago
    • gwendolyn's Avatar

      Free warning bands here: http://www.lymphedema.com/alertband.htm

      over 7 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      I think a medic alert bracelet is a great idea. I have a port which is used for most of my lab work and some tests. This way we don't have to worry about which arm to use (though i did not have lymph nodes removed, i prefer not to use my left side), the only issue, is that a qualified nurse needs to accesses and then clean the port.

      over 7 years ago
    • jad's Avatar

      I went to a talk last week given by a local lymphedema therapist. I learned that lymphedema can happen any time --- 10, 15 yrs after surgery...it doesn't matter. She recommended using a sharpie
      to write on your arm prior to a medical procedure. She talked about lymphedema generally, but specifically travel. Evidently, because of air pressure in planes there is a risk. And the longer the flight the greater the risk. I now have a prescription (not yet filled) for a compression sleeve to put on 30 min before a flight and to be left on for a while after. The flights I take are generally short, but even so I am a little concerned. I may end up taking Amtrak to see my kids, even though the
      fare is probably more than a flight. I'm retired, so I don't have time constraints. And train travel may be less stressful than air travel now is.

      I am going to look into the bracelet links that were mentioned here. And also, if your local hospital, cancer center or support group has a program on lymphedema you should go. Or may initiate a program in your area.

      According to the lymphedema specialist I heard, things are changing as more is being learned, and some of the general information circulating on lymphedema may now be dated.
      I hope I'm allowed to post links - these are the ones she recommended. The main one is

      Also for travel tips and summer tips:
      And last, a forum www.lymphedemapeople.com

      over 7 years ago
    • Clyde's Avatar

      You feel you had terrific care, but the nurse nearly made a serious mistake. That, imho, is not terrific care.

      I find the nurses I deal with lazy at best and this sort of situation the norm, not the exception. Doctors are required to ask you which arm they are going to amputate before you go under, but nurses are not required to ask you anything----they can just proceed as they wish and they wish not to take notice of notes on your chart, notes hung on IVs and straight forward instructions given face to face.

      You can complain until you are blue in the face, but the best course of action is to be constantly vigilant and question every step they take (which you did). Being nice will not bring you back to life if they make a mistake. You have to be your own protector and if you are going to be unable to ask the questions, make sure someone is with out who can.

      over 7 years ago
    • DYTYBR's Avatar

      My neighbor shared with me that her mother always had her write with SHARPIE MARKER in LARGE letters on her arm!!! Sharpie comes off easily with alcohol wipes!

      over 7 years ago
    • Bug's Avatar

      Thank you all for your input and ideas. I really appreciate it. You're right, Clyde, the nurse did almost make a serious mistake. I guess I'm just trying to make the best of the situation. I will remain vigilant.

      over 7 years ago
    • Wendysue's Avatar

      I wear a bracelet from sticky jewelry.com

      about 7 years ago

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