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The Dangers Lurking in the World of Phlebotomy

Blood Tube Holders: One Use Only
The National Phlebotomy Association (NPA), headquartered in Landover, Maryland, has issued a safety alert regarding tube holders. The NPA completed a study on reusable blood tube holders, and found that 99 percent of sampled holders were contaminated with blood. This presents a risk to the phlebotomist and a risk to the patient in terms of infection control, creating unnecessary exposure to HIV, hepatitis C, and other pathogens.
The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America recommends using portable equipment once and only once in order to prevent the spread of microorganisms and antibiotic-resistant infections. OSHA confirms the potential problems and recommends "the use of a safety needle attached to a blood tube holder and the immediate disposal of the entire unit after each patient"s blood is drawn.- (For the complete bulletin, please go to The ideal blood collection needle will have a pre-attached holder and be engineered specifically for one-time use. It"s simply no longer acceptable to offer second-rate protection to the phlebotomist or to the public.
The Squirmy Child
Pediatric blood collection presents an extra challenge, even for the experienced phlebotomist. Children under four are known to resist having their blood drawn. Based on information from the College of American Pathologists, special precautions are recommended, even if OSHA does not enforce them. For example, the Children"s Hospital of Omaha has their phlebotomy staff don goggles, masks, and lab coats to mitigate the risk of blood splashes to the face. The mother or father is asked to help by literally laying on top of the child on an examination table, while one of the child"s arms is controlled by the phlebotomist for the draw.
For children who are calm and suggestible to distractions, a worker can distract them with appropriate toys. If the phlebotomist has one of the child"s arms stabilized, the child may be allowed to use his or her other hand to play with the toy.
Lusky, Karen. Safety net: Juggling the Gains, Losses of Phlebotomy Routines. CAP Today, June 2004.

By Neil Whitehall
Get Phlebotomy Jobs, Contributing Editor

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