A phlebotomist is a medical professional who draws blood from a patient using a needle. Phlebotomists play an integral role in the medical field for their ability to safely acquire blood that is used to diagnose health conditions and conduct medical studies. People who are interested in entering this career field should be aware of all the duties that phlebotomists are required to perform.
Obtaining Blood Samples
A phlebotomist needs to know how to properly use a needle when drawing blood so that the right amount of specimen is collected without causing harm or excessive discomfort to the patient. Only needles that are completely sterile and have not been previously used should be included in the process. Before taking the blood, the phlebotomist will usually administer rubbing alcohol or another type of disinfectant to the area of the body where the blood will be taken as an extra precaution. It is also important to pay close attention to how the patient is feeling and reacting during the process so that potentially serious medical complications can be avoided. Other methods that may be used to collect blood include using a finger or heel stick.
Keeping Patient Records
The date of the blood collection and the specific tests ordered will need to be recorded and sent to the lab along with the specimen so that the sample can be handled accordingly. Information that identifies the patient needs to be clearly written on the label that is placed on the sample. The results of every test should also be documented and kept on file to ensure that the proper medical treatment and any follow-up tests can be implemented. It is important to keep this information confidential and only share it with appropriate medical personnel.
Communicating Closely with Doctors
One of the most crucial phlebotomist duties is to communicate with doctors so that every patient receives the most thorough care. Resolving issues concerning unusual test orders and any problems with the handling of a sample is a task phlebotomists are often required to perform.
Keeping a Full Stock of Supplies
If phlebotomy tools and other supplies are out of stock, it is impossible to take blood from patients. A full supply of needles, syringes and vials should always be kept. An attentive phlebotomist also makes sure that gloves, gauze and disinfectant are in stock at all times.
Maintaining a Sanitary Environment
The work environment of a phlebotomist needs to be kept clean on a consistent basis so that patients do not come into contact with contaminants. Health and safety procedures should be followed rigorously. Every piece of medical equipment that can be used again on patients should be thoroughly sanitized. Some phlebotomists even have spill kits that contain germicidal solution, lab table soakers and disposable biohazard waste bags to use if any blood is spilled.
When phlebotomist duties are followed accordingly, patients will have the benefit of receiving quality medical care in a way that does not jeopardize their health. Other medical staff members can also benefit when each task of a phlebotomist is thoroughly handled.