The phlebotomist are instrumental in helping doctors and nurses develop appropriate treatment plans by providing blood samples for lab testing such as complete blood counts and cholesterol levels. They work in a variety of settings including:
• Health care clinics
• Blood Banks
• Pharmaceutical labs
• Doctor’s offices
• Lab testing facilities such as Quest Diagnostics and Labcorp
• Home health care agencies
• Research Institutions
Phlebotomist Duties and Responsibilities – What Does a Phlebotomist Do?
Drawing blood from a patient for testing or transfusion is the primary duty of the phlebotomist. Venipuncture is the most common method a phlebotomist uses to do this. This involves collecting blood from a vein usually in the arm via the median cubital vein located in the bend of the elbow. Venipuncture requires excellent hand-eye coordination.
After taking a blood sample, the phlebotomist will label the sample with the patient’s name and other pertinent information and document the sample taken. A phlebotomist does not analyze the blood collected or administer medications or other injections to the patient.
While the primary duties of the phlebotomist are record keeping and blood collecting, they may also have other duties including scheduling appointments, answering phone calls from both patients and doctors and sometimes picking up and delivering blood samples or other specimens.
Other duties can include:
• Collecting timed specimens
• Performing EKGs
• Collecting urine samples
• Ordering and processing supplies
• Maintaining the blood drawing area by keeping it neat, clean and well stocked
• Sterilizing instruments
• Completing laboratory accession records
• Preserving specimens
• Properly disposing of contaminated sharps
Blood Borne Diseases and Communicable Infections
A phlebotomist can be exposed to blood borne diseases and other communicable infections on a daily basis. Because of this, the phlebotomist needs to be familiar with OSHA regulations regarding personal protective equipment or PPE. Certification ensures that the individual knows and understands the rigid safety standards that protect both the phlebotomist and the patient.
To ensure the safety of themselves and the patient, a phlebotomist will wear a variety of personal protective equipment including:
• Face masks
• Vinyl or latex gloves
• Head caps and gowns
• Lab coats and scrubs
The phlebotomist must also ensure that samples are handled properly to prevent contamination of the specimen and to protect themselves from possible infection.
The patient’s well-being is the most important part of any health care worker’s job. Because the phlebotomist works with patients on a daily basis, a phlebotomist must enjoy working with people and have good interpersonal skills. The age range of the patients can vary from infants to the elderly, which means the phlebotomist must be able to work well with everyone.
Most patients are not comfortable with needles or having their blood drawn, and a phlebotomist needs to be able to put these patients at ease and make the experience more relaxed. They must also monitor the patient, making sure the patient doesn’t move or suffer from a vasovagal reaction (fainting), which can cause an injury to the patient and the phlebotomist.
Phlebotomist Work Schedule
Depending on where they work, a phlebotomist may have a varied schedule. However, in most cases, the average work week is five days or 40 hours. Some phlebotomists may be required to work in shifts, but this is dependent on the individual employer. Many hospitals may have phlebotomists on night shifts, for example.