Phlebotomy is the practice of collecting blood from the veins of patients (humans and animals) for tests, transfusion or research. Phlebotomist is the medical technician who specializes in locating the vein and drawing blood from it. This is a very delicate task, and requires a great deal of skill. The blood is collected by puncturing the vein with a needle.
A lot of people are afraid and apprehensive of this procedure, namely of needles being pricked into their veins and thus these people fears and apprehensions need to be assuaged, and the person who is best suited for this is the Phlebotomist. So a phlebotomy expert must be consummate in expressing himself/herself properly, and exhibiting concern.
In the United States the Phlebotomist has to undergo a certification program. This is conducted by the American Society of Phlebotomist Technicians. This can be done in a classroom or in online phlebotomy classes. Even if it done online, this certification program requires a mandatory set of hours spent in practically drawing blood. After undergoing these specific hours of training a person qualifies to sit for a test. And only after passing the test, he is she is given a certificate.
It’s important for a Phlebotomist to have a good knowledge of the human anatomy. Though the task simply is to prick the needle into the vein and draw blood, but more often than it may not be easy to locate the vein or these incisions in the veins may lead to complications. So if the person has a good knowledge of anatomy, then he would be in a position to appreciate a patients physical symptoms and then take an informed decision of whether to proceed or to stop and consult a doctor.
Sometimes even experiences Phlebotomists may sometimes miss the vein, and may have to locate the vein by pricking again. Side to side needle relocation must never be attempted to access the vein, this may bring the needle into close proximity of the nerves and other veins which is not acceptable from the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) standards. Patience in locating a vein is a virtue in this profession.
Extensive studies have shown that 2.5 % of the total patients who undergo Phlebotomy faint or pass out during or immediately following this procedure. A good Phlebotomist must anticipate these kinds of situations and must take suitable precautions while conducting the procedure like ensuring that:
- The patient is lying down on the bed
- The patient is sitting in a chair with arm rests.
The procedure must not be carried out on patients if they are:
- Sitting upright in their hospital beds
- Sitting upright in a chair without support.
This also means never leaving the patient unattended throughout the procedure lest they fall forward during or after the procedure.
Compassion and expressiveness are qualities which are highly valued in this profession. The technician must make light conversation with the patient before the procedure in order make the patient feel comfortable and relaxed during and after the procedure.