According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, phlebotomists are clinical laboratory technicians who specialise in blood collection. Phlebotomists prepare specimens, operate automated blood analyzers when needed and perform manual tests according to detailed instructions. While phlebotomists do not typically need a bachelor's degree to perform job tasks, most obtain a certificate, associate's degree or specialised training to gain employment. Phlebotomist training focuses on several necessary skills.
Recordkeeping and Clerical
Phlebotomists must be careful record keepers, updating patient medical records, performing basic clerical tasks and assisting patients as needed. Additionally, phlebotomists must clearly label blood and serum samples, keep track of equipment, maintain safety and sanitation records and utilise medical databases or other computer programs.
Venepuncture and Blood Collection
Phlebotomists perform blood collecting tasks such as finger stick procedures and venepuncture. Finger stick procedures require phlebotomists to correctly insert a sterilised lancet into the finger. Drops of blood are collected for analysis. Venepuncture is more complicated and requires the lab technician to carefully select a collection site, position the patient correctly, apply a tourniquet, prepare and sterilise the collection area, insert the needle, collect the blood and then cover the puncture site.
Safety and Infection Control
After performing procedures, phlebotomists must monitor patients for signs of fainting or nausea. These technicians should ensure that patients have adequate time to recover before leaving the lab area. Additionally, phlebotomists must take care in practicing universal precautions to control infection. They must wear gloves, keep hands and equipment sterile, dispose of medical waste appropriately and promptly clean up spills. Additionally, phlebotomists must seek medical treatment and follow protocols if they are punctured during any procedure.
Because blood drawing requires needles and discomfort, phlebotomists may have to reassure anxious patients. It is important for these laboratory technicians to clearly explain procedures to patients to help put patients at ease. Additionally, phlebotomists need to be able to clearly explain after care to patients, providing instructions on how to handle puncture sites.
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