Common phlebotomy errors and how to avoid them

Debunking Some popular myths about free phlebotomy training

This is one of the most frequently asked questions during anyphlebotomy certification examination.Phlebotomy error forms a part of the pre-analytical laboratory error and can occur due to any of the following reasons

  • Wrong Patient Identification
  • Erroneous Phlebotomy Technique
  • Faulty Collection Procedures

Wrong Patient Identification

This is one of those errors than can never be explained or excused. It does not occur because of any lack of skill rather it occurs because of a general lack of alertness. As we shall see, these errors can be avoided by simply using a checklist to verify facts before drawing blood. Some of the common reasons for such an error may include

  • Ignoring the standard procedures for identifying the patient. It can be avoided by checking the identity document of the patient and by always asking him to spell his name aloud. Use of electronic cards that effectively bar code the patient can do wonders to avoid such issues.
  • Use of unlabelled tube or wrongly labeled tubes for collection of bloods. Some hospitals try to make use of pre-labeled tubes to avoid the work at the time of collection of samples. However this is one of the most frequent sources of error. It is better to allow the nurse to print out the label and put it on the tube at the same time as collecting the sample.
  • Ignoring some critical information like whether to collect the sample after food or before food will also result in wrong diagnosis.

Erroneous Phlebotomy Technique

This type of mistakes happen primarily due to lack of knowledge and hopefully you will learn to avoid them during your phlebotomy certification class. Some of the things to look out for are selection of right vein and avoiding areas that are prone to infection and/ or contamination of any kind. Another common mistake committed by phlebotomists is to forget cleaning the site of venipuncture properly.

Faulty Collection Procedures

The order of draw is one of the most important concepts that you will get to learn while preparing for your phlebotomy certification. Any mistake in the order of draw will result in a wrong diagnosis for your patient. You must never shake the tube strongly after collecting the blood. The methods for puncture and blood draw are taught for a reason. You will do well to remember them even after passing the phlebotomy certification exam.

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