Method and apparatus for obtaining a sample of blood from a patient for subsequent diagnostic tests, e.g., glucose monitoring. In one aspect of the invention, the method comprises the steps of:
(a) placing a blood collection device over a region on the surface of the skin from which said sample is to be obtained,
(b) forming a seal between said blood collection device and said surface of the skin,
(c) creating a vacuum sufficient to result in said surface of the skin becoming stretched and engorged with blood,
(d) triggering a lancing assembly and causing a lancet to penetrate said skin,
(e) retracting said lancet,
(f) withdrawing blood toward and onto a fluid collector, and
(g) releasing the vacuum.
In another aspect of the invention, an apparatus for carrying out the method described previously is provided. The apparatus comprises:
(a) a housing having a sealable chamber located therein and a sealable opening in fluid communication with said sealable chamber,
(b) a power source,
(c) a vacuum pump operably connected to said power source, said vacuum pump in communication with said sealable chamber,
(d) a lancing assembly positioned within said housing, said lancing assembly capable of moving a lancet towards said sealable opening, and
(e) a fluid collector positioned in said sealable chamber, said fluid collector in fluid communication with said sealable opening.