Just saying the word phlebotomist is quite a mouthful. So, what exactly is a phlebotomist and what do they do? Phlebotomists are trained to collect blood samples. It is very common for a routine doctor’s visit or a trip to the Emergency Department to include a blood sample. This can be frightening for a lot of patients. It is the job of the phlebotomist to put their patient at ease and collect the proper sample for the blood tests ordered. The phlebotomy experience starts with the paperwork. The first most important step of a phlebotomy procedure is correctly identifying the patient. It may seem simple, but it is vital. Most errors occur not in the actual testing process, but in the paperwork. Incorrectly labeled samples are a huge problem. There is more work involved in tracking down the correct patient and results than just taking the time to properly identify and label the samples from the start. With the technology of today and a lot of patient privacy laws, more and more companies are using bar-coding for patient identification. A bar code is not readable by a human and cannot tell you if an error has occurred. This is why it is so important to take the simple step at the very beginning to properly identify each and every patient.
The next thing a trained phlebotomist will do is asses the patient. If there are any questions, doubts or fears, now is the time to address them. A phlebotomist knows their job and can easily answer most questions up front. Putting the patient at ease allows for a better experience all around. Patients who are nervous or tense can have a more painful than necessary experience or provide a sample that is sub-par. Extreme tension in a patient will not provide a good sample. Some patients can even tense themselves up to the point of stopping their own blood flow. Phlebotomists can ease the tension of patients by talking to them and walking them step by step through the process. Even chatting about a topic that interests a patient can put them at ease enough to allow for proper collection of a blood sample.
The phlebotomist will then check the orders and obtain the proper sample containers for the blood collection. There are a variety of blood tests available and each one has specific requirements. Your trained phlebotomist knows exactly what tube or container to collect from you based on the order from the doctor. The trained phlebotomist has all the supplies needed on hand. They will then collect the sample from the patient. Each patient and situation is unique and your phlebotomist will be able to collect your blood sample based on your needs.
After the sample is collected, the phlebotomist will then label each sample with the proper labels or actually hand write on the blood tubes. This is another vital step in proper patient identification. After all of this is complete, your blood samples are sent to the laboratory for testing. The result reports are sent to the ordering physician for interpretation. Patients can then discuss their results with their doctor.
The trained phlebotomist is an important member of a health care team. Helping doctors and nurses to understand what is going on with patients through blood testing can reveal a lot about a patients current condition. With a trained phlebotomist on your side, you are in good hands.