In general, the phlebotomy technician finds the blood transfusion a simple procedure that involves introducing a needle in an intravenous line and allowing the transfer of new healthy blood. On the other hand, although simple and routine for the medical staff, the blood transfusion can be a terrifying and unpleasant experience for the patient. What makes matters worse is the fact that the primary source of information regarding the procedure for patients is the nursing staff and is often given only if a patient expressly asks about it, together with the possible side effects and other details.
It is estimated that only in the United States the blood transfusions performed by a phlebotomy technician represent ten percent of the clinical procedures during a standard hospitalization. While such interventions are necessary in treating and improving the patient’s state of health, there has been little research on the individual’s point of view concerning the blood transfusion. In other words, the specialists in the medical field are so focused on respecting the predetermined steps of this life-saving procedure, that they have little time to think about ways of improving the overall experience for the patients and their families.
A study conducted by Adams and Tolich on a group of patients who required blood transfusions in the intensive care unit uncovered some very alarming facts. First of all, the interviewed patients reported that even though the phlebotomist technician told them what was going to happen, they still felt they were not involved in the decision. In general, the situation is something like this: the physician who observes a declining state of health for the patient takes the decision of approving the transfusion and the patients rarely question it. However, later most patients feel comfortable about asking a nurse for additional clarification and advice.
Another disturbing aspect regarding blood transfusion is that patients state the written pre-transfusion note was not helpful in any way. Yet again, the nurses were perceived as the main source of information about this process. This guide would like to point out the need for phlebotomists to provide more information on blood transfusions, present the procedure in a comprehensible language and overall, improve the patient’s knowledge. This is quite crucial considering that many patients have expressed concerns about blood safety, despite the reassurance of the medical staff and the phlebotomist. Essentially, the phlebotomists should explain the entire process in detail and offer comfort in accordance with the patient’s personality and style.
Perhaps one of the major fears for patients who undergo a blood transfusion for the first time is the potential allergic reaction. It is necessary to point out the fact that even though the blood matches the criteria, sometimes the proteins in the patient’s blood will attack the new blood and aggravate the patient’s condition. Therefore, the physician will need to be prepared with the right type of medicine to keep the patient safe. Even though the allergic reaction will typically manifest in the first fifteen minutes, it is advisable that at least one specialized member of the medical personnel is present throughout the duration of the procedure.