5 Things Patients Wish Their Phlebotomists Knew
Succeeding as a phlebotomist is about a lot more than drawing blood and labeling test tubes. As a phlebotomy professional, you make a real difference when it comes to helping people take charge of their health. To ensure a positive experience for everyone you meet, it's a good idea to put yourself in the patient's shoes from time to time. Keep reading to learn five things patients wish their phlebotomists knew.
1. Provide Information Ahead Of Time
For patients with chronic medical conditions, having blood drawn is a common occurrence. As a phlebotomist, you'll see many of the same patients on a weekly or monthly basis, creating plenty of opportunities to build positive relationships. One way to put these patients at ease is to provide information as far in advance as possible. If you know a patient is coming in for a blood draw in a few weeks, offer some tips to make the blood draw easier.
Jo A. Steinberg, CEO of Midland Health, recommends advising patients to drink plenty of water before their next draw. She distinguishes between fasting and NPO, stating that "NPO is ordered if a person is going in for surgery, [while] fasting is usually water only so the patient is hydrated and easy to get blood from." Drinking water plumps up the veins, making it easier for you to complete the blood draw quickly and with as little discomfort as possible for the patient.
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2. Don't Use Numbing Spray Without Asking
Some facilities have cold spray available to numb the skin and minimize the discomfort of venipuncture, but don't assume that every patient wants you to use it. Autoimmune disorders, problems with the nervous system and other medical conditions make some patients extremely sensitive to cold. For these patients, cold spray causes more pain than the small needle used for venipuncture. If you have cold spray at your disposal, ask your patients if they'd rather have their blood drawn with or without it.
3. Listen To The Patient
Although you're a medical professional, don't automatically assume that you know what's best for every patient. Instead, listen carefully and trust that patients know their bodies better than anyone else. If a patient tells you that phlebotomists never have any luck drawing blood from the veins in her hands, for example, try to draw from the median cubital vein first. Ms. Steinberg explains that it is also helpful for patients to inform the phlebotomist if their veins roll or they are known as "hard sticks." If you receive this information from a patient, listen closely and perform the venipuncture accordingly.
4. Make A Personal Connection
Of all the things patients wish their phlebotomists knew, the need for a personal connection is one of the most important. Technology has made it easier to track samples and avoid laboratory errors, but it has also made patient encounters a little more impersonal. Phlebotomists are supposed to be a bridge between the patient and the clinical laboratory, but it's impossible to fulfill this duty if you don't make time to connect with other people. Every time you meet a new patient, be sure to introduce yourself and explain what you are going to do. If you have to adjust your equipment or look up information on a computer, one of the best phlebotomy tips you can follow is to maintain regular eye contact with the patient to ensure you come across as caring and professional.
5. Give Regular Updates
Blood draws are one of the most common medical procedures performed in the United States. In fact, Robert Reiss of Forbes reports that hospitals do approximately 500,000 blood draws each year. With such high demand for blood draws and other laboratory services, it's easy to get behind, leaving patients waiting to have their samples collected. You can't eliminate wait times entirely, but you can make them easier for patients by providing regular updates. If possible, let patients know how long they can expect to wait. If you can't provide an estimate, reassure patients by letting them know you'll do their blood draws as soon as possible. Keeping the lines of communication open is one of the best ways to advance your phlebotomy career and build trust among the patients you serve.
Every patient is different, which is why even the best phlebotomy tips won't work for everyone. Next time you go to work, keep this list of things patients wish their phlebotomist knew in mind. You'll have an easier time putting patients at ease and performing your other job duties.