What is the Role of a Phlebotomist in Healthcare

Phlebotomist

A Phlebotomist is a medical technician, who is trained to draw blood from a patient’s body for testing in clinical or medical purposes. The blood is also used for research, donations and transfusions. Phlebotomists work in clinics, hospitals, blood banks, diagnostic centers and clinical laboratories. Blood analysis plays a very important role as a diagnostic tool for the medical clinicians. Thus, it becomes even more important that blood is collected in the most professional manner. If there is more than one sample to be collected, the tubes for blood collection must be arranged in a strictly specific order. It is the responsibility of the phlebotomist to know the order. It is an easy process to find out how to become a phlebotomist.

Process of collecting blood

When the blood is collected, a tourniquet is applied to the upper arm of the patient to slow down the flow of blood. Then, the phlebotomist uses an alcohol swab to disinfect a small patch near the inner side of the elbow. After the vein is located, a needle is inserted to draw blood. This process is known as venipuncture. It can be frightening or intimidating for some patients. That is why; it becomes important for the phlebotomist to maintain a friendly behavior with the patients to calm them down.

Another technique of collecting blood is to take a blood sample through skin puncture. For example, a finger is pricked to test the level of sugar in patient’s blood or assess the blood type.

The phlebotomists with higher education and advanced training in the profession can also collect blood from the patient’s arteries and start intravenous lines.

Importance of the role of a phlebotomist

It goes without saying that the equipments to be used must be sanitized properly beforehand. In addition, it is the responsibility of the phlebotomist to label the blood samples accurately, store them properly and transport them carefully. If the blood sample is misidentified or contaminated, some very serious consequences may occur because medical professionals and doctors rely on the results of blood tests for diagnosing patients and track the progress in treatment.

It is equally crucial for the phlebotomist to observe strict protocols for his own safety and avoid contacting directly with the blood samples. Diseases like hepatitis, HIV, etc. can get transmitted through direct contact with blood. If there is slightest of distraction, it may lead to injury through needle stick and may cause infection.

Communication

Some patients are afraid of having their blood drawn. Therefore, the phlebotomist has to maintain a very professional and friendly manner with such patients as well as other medical professionals. He should meet and greet the patients with a smile on his face and show a sympathetic behavior with the patients to make them relax. He must be communicative with the patients so that he can explain the medical procedures in such a manner that a layman can understand it.

Working conditions

While the phlebotomists work in hospitals, clinical laboratories, etc. they are normally supervised by a medical professional or a technologist of the clinical lab. A phlebotomist must be able to work under strict pressure without compromising on safety or accuracy. Motor skills of the phlebotomist must be fine so that he can insert the needle into a vein accurately. The technicians are paid on an hourly basis. But, the salary depends upon the phlebotomist’s shift, location, experience and education.

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