What Does a Phlebotomist Do?

What does a phlebotomist do? A phlebotomist practices phlebotomy. Is that enough to answer your question? Probably not, right? We really haven’t explained what phlebotomy is yet so you might still be a little confused. Phlebotomy is essentially the practice of drawing blood by making an incision into the vein or puncturing the skin, and it’s the responsibility of the phlebotomist to master this procedure. You can think of phlebotomists as friendly vampires who won’t drink your blood, but collects blood samples for research, testing, donations, and transfusions. But, it gets a little more complicated once you get an overview of their entire job description. So today, we’ll be covering the question of what does a phlebotomist do in full detail.

What Does a Phlebotomist Do?

So, phlebotomy is the act of drawing blood, but how does a phlebotomist do it? And what does a phlebotomist do on a daily basis? You wouldn’t trust some random stranger coming up to you and sticking a needle in your arm, would you? Of course not, which is why phlebotomists must follow a strict procedure in order to draw blood. Well, the procedure unfolds like this:

Pre-Procedure

Before the procedure of drawing blood is carried out, a phlebotomist must identify the correct patient through records as well as verify what the actual request is asking for. Different purposes for the blood requires different colored vials that lets others know what the blood will be used for. Once the patient is called in, the phlebotomist explains the procedure as well as comforts them if they are feeling scared or nervous.

Drawing Blood

venipuncture-vs-fingerstick - what does a phlebotomist do?

Venipuncture vs. Fingerstick

Once the patient is ready to have their blood drawn, the mandatory process of sterilization is practiced. This involves having the phlebotomist clean their hands, put on gloves, use clean equipment, and disinfect the patient’s arm or finger. It is also crucial that phlebotomists practice standard procedures and universal precautions throughout–since blood is capable of carrying hazardous bloodborne pathogens.

Once the patient is prepped, the venipuncture or fingerstick is performed. This involves either inserting a needle into a patient’s visible vein or pricking the finger (takes lots of practice to do it consistently and pain-free). Afterwards, the phlebotomist either draws the correct amount of blood into the correct colored tubes (ventipuncture) or draws the blood sample from the finger into a capillary tube (fingerstick).

Post-Puncture Care

Once the blood has been drawn, it’s up to the phlebotomist to restore hemostatis for the patient. This is essentially stopping the wound from bleeding, which often consists of putting pressure on the wound or applying a topical. The phlebotomist then disinfects the patient’s skin again and applies a bandaid/cottonball. Next, the phlebotomist will instruct the patient on post-puncture care.

Delivering the Goods

Once the blood has been drawn and the patient has left, a phlebotomist must make sure that all the equipment is properly sanitized for the next patient as well as carefully disposing the used needle into a marked container. Next, the phlebotomist must correctly label the tubes with the date and patient’s name and deliver it to the laboratory or physician for further analysis, making sure to complete any records or enter data into the computer as needed.

 

So, now you know what does a phlebotomist do on a daily basis. Does it sound scary to you at all? If not, and if you think this is the type of work you can do well, you can research a little more about how to become a phlebotomist to get started.