Individuals don’t give a lot of thought to professionals who draw blood. However, phlebotomists are highly trained professionals. Certain protocols must be followed in the profession. Let’s examine at least four of the myths about the profession.

What is a Phlebotomist?

A phlebotomist is someone who draws blood from patients. The blood is used for tests, medical procedures, and donations. Phlebotomists work with doctors, nurses, and other professionals. Most of them use phlebotomy carts to make the job easier. The carts have several drawers so phlebotomists can take supplies from room to room.

Tourniquet

The tourniquet should be left on for three minutes so blood flows freely. Is that a true statement or false? You’re right if you think it’s a myth. Hemoconcentration and hemolysis occur if a tourniquet is left on for two minutes or tied too tightly. Damaged cells skew test results for cholesterol, protein, potassium, and iron levels. Tight tourniquets may also damage blood vessels.

How to Fill Blood Collection Tubes

Another myth is that collection tubes can be filled in any order. Rather, one should use the following order.

    • yellow and black-top tubes (used for blood cultures)
    • tubes with red tops (used for blood bank and serum samples)
    • light blue top tubes (contain an anti-coagulant for coagulation studies)
    • dark green top tubes (used for plasma tests)
    • lavender top tubes (contain an anticoagulant used to save cells)

There is rhyme and reason to the way tubes are filled.

Certain Veins Should Not be Used

Phlebotomists must know there are areas where blood should not be drawn. They try to use the elbow pit. The median and cephalic veins should be used over the basilic vein. The basilic vein is too close to the median nerve and brachial artery.

Names are Everything

Does it mean the phlebotomist has the right patient if a patient responds to a name? This is a myth because names often sound alike. Rather, have the patient verbalize their name. If the individual cannot speak, get a family member to say the name.

All Blood Samples Should Be Refrigerated Immediately

Blood samples should not be refrigerated before centrifugation if potassium levels are being tested. Red blood cells contain a lot of potassium. If the sample is refrigerated first, potassium leaks out of the cells and into the blood and serum. This leads to false test results.

Should Patients Bend Their Elbow After a Blood Draw

Patients should not bend their elbow after an antecubital stick. There may be a bleed into the antecubital area. Rather, the patient should hold their arm straight and slightly elevated.

Time of Day

It’s a myth that time of day doesn’t affect a blood draw. Indeed, some hormone levels are higher in the morning. On the other hand, iron levels are higher in the afternoon. Blood glucose levels fluctuate depending on when the patient eats.

Wearing Gloves

Is it a myth that gloves help to prevent needle sticks? Actually, wearing gloves lowers the chances of getting a needle stick by 66%. Further, wearing gloves during a needle stick has extra benefits. The glove material wipes off 85% of the blood and lowers the worker’s chances of acquiring a disease.

There are many myths surrounding phlebotomy. Fortunately, phlebotomists are highly trained professionals. They know the correct actions to take to protect the patient’s health and their own.

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