The process of drawing and collecting blood from a vein as you learn to do in phlebotomy training, is called a venipuncture. This procedure is performed by specialized healthcare workers, called phlebotomists. These knowledgeable technicians have been trained in human anatomy and physiology, blood storage and collection procedures, and safety procedures and protocols.
Before beginning a venipuncture, the phlebotomist should assemble all necessary equipment and tools. A phlebotomist will require needles, syringes, and collecting tubes. These specialized vacuum tubes are designed to collect a predetermined amount of blood. Some tubes contain additives designed for certain specimen analysis; these tubes are identifiable by the color of the rubber stopper. Tourniquets, antiseptic, gauze or cotton balls, and tape are also necessary. A special puncture-proof container marked ‘bio-hazardous’ is required for safe disposal of used needles.
Safety procedures are the next actions performed by the phlebotomist. The phlebotomist will start by washing their hands with a specially designated hand washing product. This will be repeated before every procedure. The phlebotomist must wear personal protective equipment during blood collection. Vinyl or latex gloves must be worn for every venipuncture and should be changed between each procedure.
A lab coat or gown must also be worn during blood collection. Following the venipuncture, proper disposal of equipment must occur. Each item used during a venipuncture will have its own disposal container, according to biohazardous waste disposal policy. Contaminated surfaces should be wiped down with a freshly prepared bleach solution. All surfaces should be cleaned daily with bleach.
The phlebotomist should first identify the patient and ensure that all information is correct. It is likely that the patient will feel some anxiety or discomfort at the thought of having blood drawn. To minimize this discomfort, the patient should be reassured that the minimum amount of blood required for testing will be drawn.
The patient should be positioned for venipuncture with the arm extended to form a straight line from shoulder to wrist, with a closed fist. The phlebotomist will then select the proper vein and collection site. Phlebotomists should never draw blood from arteries or from the feet. The site should be free of extensive scarring or bruises. The phlebotomist then applies a tourniquet three to four inches above the chosen site of collection. The site is then cleaned with an alcohol pad and allowed to dry before puncture.
The actual venipuncture begins with the attachment of the appropriate needle to its hub and removal of the plastic cap. The phlebotomist will then pinch the skin and insert the needle into the vein. If a phlebotomist has difficulty inserting a needle into the vein, a nurse or doctor should be called in after two attempts. The vacuum tube is then attached to the needle and the blood will begin to flow into the tube. After blood flow begins, the phlebotomist will remove the tourniquet and ask the patient to open their hand.
When collection is finished, the needle is removed and a gauze pad is applied to the puncture site with slight pressure. Needles and other tools are disposed of in their appropriate containers. All tubes are labeled with patient labels, initials, date and time. The procedure for blood collection varies slightly with a syringe and when performed in children and infants. In each case, the phlebotomist is well trained to be able to perform each collection smoothly. Navigate through our informational website in order to find out more details about the phlebotomist job description.