Understanding the Role of a Phlebotomist
A normal workday for phlebotomists is filled with various activities, most of which relate to venipuncture. Because their work also extends to collecting urine sample, their day can run from relaxing to hectic.
What are the roles they play in the health care sector?
- Collect Blood Samples
Collecting blood specimens is the primary function of a phlebotomy technician. They are responsible for the extraction and custody of blood needed for testing, donating or other purposes. How they collect blood, depends on various factors, from the type of patient to the amount of blood needed.
A routine venipuncture follows several procedures, starting from the prep work. To ensure safety and eliminate possible errors and contamination, materials must be prepared and the appropriate location must be used. There should be a designated area where blood will be drawn, complete with the right laboratory furniture.
- Follow Safety Protocols
From the collection of blood samples to disposal of needles, there are safety protocols that must be followed. Failure to do so could lead to problems that might be life altering for the people involved. Imagine getting pricked by a needle with trace amounts of infected blood or one with HIV.
- Quality Control
There must be no room for errors in phlebotomy, which is why elements of quality assurance must be considered. These include the following:
- Education, training and development of phlebotomists
What better to ensure high quality work than to hire professionals who are educated and trained on how to carry out phlebotomy safely and without any problem? This should include training in anatomy, awareness of risks involved in blood exposure, poor infection control and prevention, and first aid.
- Standard operating procedure
SOPs are provided to ensure the safety of the phlebotomists and their patients. This is why all workers must be well aware of the procedures involved, and it is the responsibility of the health care facility to educate and provide written guidelines.
- Patient identification
Plenty of things can go wrong when a blood sample is assigned to the wrong patient. If one of the two people had their blood tested for HIV and one of them is positive, but the labels were interchanged, someone’s life could be altered dramatically. For this reason, patient identification is of utmost importance.
Other factors include checking the condition of the sample, safe transportation of the specimen and provision of an incident report.
- Quality Patient Care
Phlebotomy must be done in such a way that patients do not end up injured or angry enough to sue someone. Quality patient care before and after phlebotomy is a role that should not be overlooked. This can be achieved through the following:
- Appropriate supplies and protective equipment
- Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)
- Proper handling of contaminated phlebotomy equipment
- Proper training in phlebotomy
- Involvement and cooperation of a patient
Phlebotomist roles can vary depending on the work environment. It is not uncharacteristic for a phlebotomist to wear many hats throughout the course of the day. As you can proably guess, a phlebotomists day can be fairly busy, but it can be an exciting busy. As you progress in your career your roles may evolve and provide more and more tasks you may not associate strictly with phlebotomy.