If you’ve ever had blood drawn in a doctor’s office before, it’s likely that it was done by a phlebotomist. So what is a phlebotomist, other than a person with a strange sounding title? Well, a phlebotomist is someone who draws blood, although that’s not all that they do. You may find a phlebotomist working in a doctor’s office, hospital, clinic, laboratory, or even a blood bank. Essentially anywhere that blood is drawn, you may see a phlebotomist working there.
The two main ways that a phlebotomist typically draws blood is through venipuncture and dermal puncture. These techniques are somewhat similar, but also different in their exact application. They are both ways to draw blood, but one is used when more blood is needed (venipuncture), and the other is used when less blood is needed (dermal puncture). When a phlebotomist performs venipuncture, they typically apply a tourniquet to a patient’s arm and isolate a vein and then pierce it in order to draw out blood into a tube or other collection device. In dermal puncture, only the top layer of skin in punctured (often a patient’s finger), and the blood that flows out is collected into a small tube which is sometimes called a “finger stick.” The blood may also be collected on a test strip or some other type of device.
Phlebotomists are important in the health care industry because they collect blood when doctors order tests which can help to diagnose problems with people. They are also vital when it comes to counseling patients because many patients are afraid of needles and do not like having their blood drawn. A skilled phlebotomist may be able to lower a patient’s anxiety level and convince them that there is nothing to worry about so they’ll allow their blood to be drawn. In addition to drawing blood, phlebotomists may also perform a number of other work duties depending upon the setting in which they work. What a phlebotomist does at a blood bank may be different from what a phlebotomist does who works in a hospital or doctor’s office. When phlebotomists aren’t drawing blood, they may be entering information into computer systems, maintaining a clean and sterile work area, logging other patient information, labeling test tubes and specimen containers, or greeting patients at an office. So, it’s pretty obvious that phlebotomists are both important health care workers, and also capable of doing more than just drawing blood from patients.