Drawing blood

Phlebotomy Training in a Lab Setting

The phlebotomist is responsible for obtaining blood samples for a variety of testing purposes. Because this is a very delicate process, extensive phlebotomy training is essential, especially to ensure that mistakes are avoided and the phlebotomist is able to obtain the blood sample without damaging the vein and causing patient discomfort or pain.

What to Expect from a Training Program in Phlebotomy

Phlebotomist taking Real Blood sampleChoosing the puncture site is one of the most delicate steps of the entire process. One wrong move can cause increased pain to the patient. Because of this, the aspiring phlebotomist must take a wide range of courses in physiology, human anatomy, proper blood draw techniques, and patient interaction.

Basic infection control is another main focus in any phleb training program. Blood carries infections that may be contagious. In order to ensure the safety of the patient and phlebotomist, basic infection control is a high priority. There are universal safety precautions that must be followed in order to prevent the transmission of bloodborne pathogens. Students will learn more about risk categorization for every type of specimen, in addition to lab safety precautions and vaccinations.

A program instructor will teach phlebotomy students about the dangers of accidental needle sticks. Students will learn how to prevent such contact and what to do in the event this type of accident occurs. This includes thoroughly washing the stick site while promoting bleeding by applying pressure to the site, which can help to flush a contaminant from the system.

Another course of study is a focus on safety procedures to follow before, during, and after a blood draw. Students will learn how to avoid spilling bodily fluids, the type of personal protective gear that’s required and they’ll also learn about the common biosafety and microbiological practices.

A training program will teach students how to use blood draw equipment and dispose of hazardous waste properly. Every hospital or lab uses proper disposal systems that the phlebotomist must also use accordingly and at all times.

Decontaminating all equipment in the lab and using the proper protective gear in order to prevent cross-contamination between specimens is also a crucial part of a training program.

Learning How a Phlebotomy Lab Works

The phlebotomist will typically work in a clinical lab where many tests are performed for a variety of reasons. A lab can be home to several departments, such as clinical pathology, and anatomic pathology. With all of the equipment and machines and steps involved for a single test, it’s important that the aspiring phlebotomist undergoes extensive training in regard to basic lab setups and equipment usage. Often, this class will take place is a mock lab setup which will allow the students to test out and operate machinery as they learn how to properly care for and maintain certain types of lab equipment.

The training course on phlebotomy equipment will mainly focus on the phlebotomy tray. A student will learn about the different tools and components used during a blood draw and how to properly stock their tray for the day, how to sterilize the equipment and how to minimize the risk of infection or cross contamination between patients.

The phlebotomist’s tray comes equipped with a variety of tools that are needed for a routine venipuncture procedure. While some other pieces of equipment may be added based on puncture site or the type of tests that will be carried out, the basic phlebotomy tray will include:

Evacuated collection tubes which allow a pre-determined amount of blood to be collected by vacuum. These tubes come with color coded tops which indicate the type of coating or additive that’s in them. These tubes are placed in an adapter or holder, which will keep them organized based on the order of the draw.

The type of needles used by the phlebotomist will vary in bore size. If the gauge of the needle is large, the bore is small.  These needles are used with a butterfly system or single draw system.

The tourniquet is another essential tool used in most venipuncture procedures. The tourniquet is used to make veins more prominent and allow for venous blood flow. Latex-free tourniquets are now the standard and will help to prevent allergic reactions in patients with a latex sensitivity.

Alcohol wipes are commonly used to disinfect the site. A minimum of seventy percent of isopropyl alcohol must be used.

Sharps containers, which are needle disposal units, are compact containers that hold used needles after a procedure is completed. These containers help to minimize the risk of an accidental needle stick and contamination.

Other equipment used on the phlebotomy tray includes syringes, adhesives, and cotton balls or gauze sponges.

A Walk-Through Venipuncture Training

Drawing bloodAnother essential part of a phlebotomy program is a course on routine venipuncture procedures. This is a standard in every training program and it provides students with an in-depth look at this delicate procedure. At the end of the in-class portion of the program, students will participate in a hands-on training program where they will work with real patients to perform a determined number of venipunctures in order to graduate from the program.

This course will detail the steps of the venipuncture process, such as patient identification, assessment of a patient’s condition and disposition prior to the blood draw, how to obtain patient information, and blood draw site selection. The program instructor will walk students through the patient, puncture site, and equipment preparation.

Next, students will learn how to perform the actual procedure, how to place the sample in the appropriate container, the importance of checking for possible complications, labeling the samples, and sample transportation. The differences in skin puncture procedures in infants, adults, and the elderly will also be discussed.

Students will perform their first several venipunctures on mannequin arms before moving on to practicing this procedure on fellow classmates. By the end of in-class training, students will be well prepared to perform blood draws on real patients at a local medical facility.

These basic phlebotomy training courses will provide students with an in-depth look at this exciting health care field. Enrolling in a training program is the first step towards earning certification in phlebotomy and landing a decent paying position in the medical field.