There’s a surprisingly large range of jobs in a wide selection of settings for phlebotomists, but most fit into a few key areas.
Let’s start by organizing them into locations by the type of work undertaken.
Most patients visiting a hospital will need bloods taking from time to time, as the analysis will reveal a huge amount about the health of the patient. The number of conditions this could reveal are far too numerous to mention in this section, but blood analysis is one of the most important diagnostic tools in healthcare.
There’s a similar set of reasons why your doctor might wish to take blood samples, but in addition to the ones in hospital, physicians will often carry out more regular, routine tests. These may include checking for common conditions like diabetes, as well as general screening for any conditions that may not be showing any or obvious symptoms.
Increasingly, pharmacies are offering services to collect bloods. Often they’re then sent off to laboratories for analysis, but the availability of these services offers additional convenience to patients, and takes pressure off physicians and hospitals.
Other Places Of Work
While most patients will experience giving blood samples in the three locations above, there are plenty of other possibilities too depending on the situation. For example, where appropriate, phlebotomists may travel to the patient rather than the other way around in some circumstances, such as in cases where the patient is under detention by law enforcement or in correctional facilities.
Analysis Of Bloods
High capacity laboratories are most commonly used by larger hospitals and other healthcare settings in the immediate area to process blood tests. They’ll often be within the hospital or adjacent to it for logistical reasons, but in some cases the tests are taken off site for analysis.
Drugs companies and scientists also need to regularly observe results from blood tests, so will usually have their own team of phlebotomists. Their responsibilities will usually involve looking for the impact of treatments, or analyze changes in bloods resulting from disease or other conditions.
While drug companies employ a large number of phlebotomists for commercial research and medicine advancement, educational institutions such as universities may also carry out research, such as non profit investigative research. There can be a blurred line between these two activities, with one supporting the other in their projects.
Common Responsibilities In Phlebotomy
No matter what role a phlebotomist undertakes, certain responsibilities cover most occupations. Let’s look at those in a little more detail
Specimen collection is undoubtedly at the core of phlebotomy, involving frequent use of needles, cannulas, tourniquet, safety lock kits and so on. Developing your skills will mean you can perform these procedures quickly and as free of discomfort as possible for the patient. Many people fear needles, and a competent and reassuring phlebotomist can make the experience far more manageable for those visiting to provide a specimen.
Completing the correct forms and documenting the collection of samples is a critical part of the role, as the consequences of mixing samples don’t bear thinking about. While safeguards and procedures are always in place, they only work as well as the individual following them. As a result, strong routine and discipline are critical attributes of phlebotomists.
One of the biggest changes in the roles in phlebotomy over recent decades has been the computerization of records. Promptly entering accurate and detailed descriptions in computer systems means that a comprehensive and contemporaneous set of notes can be reviewed in the future.
Equipment And Supply Management
As with most jobs, there is an element of housekeeping required to keep a phlebotomist’s workspace operating optimally. Examples include the regular stocktaking of equipment and ordering supplies to keep stocks of essentials. As blood taking is a medical procedure, risks are involved to both the patient and practitioner, so clean operating areas are a must. Most areas will need to be regularly cleaned, probably as often as between each appointment in some areas.
In a more practical sense, frequent checking that trays are neat, tidy and stocked so that you’re not discovering items are missing half way through a patient providing specimens.
Some patients will provide multiple samples in a single appointment, so preparation is key, with sample tubes clearly labelled before the patient enters the room to avoid confusion in the event of distraction (such as a fainting patient).