A good number of phlebotomist technicians do not think that phlebotomy can land them in a lawsuit, and put them in a situation where they have to defend themselves desperately. However, in the current litigious society, everyone is fair game for a patient who believes they have been wronged. There are many patients suffering following procedures and consequently are suing phlebotomists for various causes. Although phlebotomy is among the most underestimated procedures in the medical field, it is a heavily detailed procedure, which requires the phlebotomy technician to perform a sequence of procedures safely and properly.
Therefore, besides having experience and training in phlebotomy, a phlebotomy technician should seek to know the various codes of ethics for phlebotomists. This will protect them from phlebotomy related lawsuits or help them defend themselves during legal proceedings.
Cases against phlebotomists
In most cases, a phlebotomist technician can be sued for malpractice or negligence. This includes practices such as failure to identify the patient correctly, mislabeling of patient’s specimens and failure to use sterilized equipment or techniques, resulting in infections. Another possible reason for lawsuits is re-using of needles and failure to perform a given test properly, resulting in misdiagnosis. In addition, a phlebotomy technician can be sued for causing injury to a patient’s vein, injury to his or her nerve or even scarring or failure of the technician to inform the patient about any possible risks during the procedure, for instance, fainting.
Furthermore, a phlebotomy technician can be taken to court for drawing blood from a patient without his/her consent and breach of confidentiality – releasing sensitive information concerning the patient to the wrong people who might use it against the patient. Breakage of equipment during the procedure, and consequently causing injury to the patient could also result in a lawsuit besides failing to control the chain of custody. Looking at the aforementioned cases, you will realize that becoming a phlebotomist requires you to be keen and attentive when carrying out procedures.
The burden of proof for the aforementioned malpractices and negligence is the plaintiff’s responsibility. Although, the majority of these cases are hard to prove, there are still a good number of lawsuits in courts against phlebotomists. In order for the plaintiff, in this case it is the patient, to prove negligence on the part of the phlebotomist, four conditions must exist:
First, a standard of care must exist, secondly the phlebotomist must have breached the standard of care, third, the patient must have sustained an injury and lastly, the injury sustained must be proven to have arisen out of the acts resulting from the breach of standard of care.
How can a phlebotomist avoid lawsuits?
In order to avoid legal conflicts and lawsuits, a phlebotomy technician can follow a number of basic guidelines:
- He or she must document all patient information legibly and accurately
- He or she must acquire informed consent from the patient before drawing blood and document any incidents immediately
- The phlebotomist should also be a participant in continuing education and perform at the acceptable standards for care and finally,
- He/she should adhere strictly to all the laboratory procedures and policies besides using proper safety measures.