At the sharp end: The importance of phlebotomy updates

Many staff who are trained in the art of phlebotomy carry on day to day without ever attending a refresher course.  They may have been practising for years and received a certificate of competence, but how can they be sure that they are up to date?

Thornfields’ Lisanne Meadowcroft reveals some of the ways that practitioners frequently go wrong with phlebotomy, and tells us the best way to help staff deliver the best experience for patients.

The things you don’t want to hear…

I have delivered many updates in phlebotomy over the years all across the UK, and some of the horror stories I have heard have shocked me to the core!

“I still bend the needle! Nobody has ever complained about it to me!”

 “I always get the patient to pump their fist, it really helps with locating the vein”

“I don’t bother ensuring that the bevelled edge of the needle is in the correct position - when I was taught, my mentor said it didn’t make a difference!”“I just draw the samples in any order, what difference does it make? Obviously, none, as I’ve been doing it for years”

These statements are real examples of comments that have been shared with me and the rest of the class on many occasions.  It’s no wonder that patients are leaving surgeries with huge bruises or being told to attend A&E due to high potassium levels. 

There are reasons why we have to follow venepuncture protocols and reasons why they are put into place.

Causing problems for our patients

Did you know that performing phlebotomy without undue care and attention can lead to erroneous results? This could mean that a patient is being treated for a condition that they don’t have – or not receiving treatment that they actually need. 

Probing or digging around with the needle in the hope that you may find a suitable vein can leave the patient with long-term nerve damage. Using outdated techniques such as bending needles can cause severe infection which at worst could result in death.

As an assessor, I have sometimes had to fail students through no fault of their own, but due to their workplace mentor using poor techniques and passing on bad habits to the student. All of these problems could be rectified by staff simply attending a three-hour update course.

We all want to make sure our patients’ blood tests are as pain free and pleasant as possible!

About Lisanne:
I have taught and assessed teaching hundreds of phlebotomy students across the UK since 2011. I have also worked with psychotherapists and their needle-phobic patients and in 2012 received specialist training at Manchester children's hospital in paediatric phlebotomy.

I still do a weekly clinic taking blood from neonates up to teenagers. Phlebotomy is my passion!

How long has it been since staff at your practice took a phlebotomy refresher session? Get in touch with award-winning primary care training providers Thornfields today to find out how they can help!


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