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The Legal Troubles Facing Phlebotomists

What Can Go Wrong? 

Negligence is the major reason that a phlebotomist"s employer can be sued. For example, one recent successful lawsuit was the result of the technician failing to confirm that a patient was feeling well enough before discharging her. The patient was queasy after her blood test, and she fell and fractured her skull.
 
Another phlebotomist was cited for negligence after hurrying, and accidentally causing a hematoma clot to form on a patient"s arm, thus causing long-term nerve injury.
 
Healthcare technicians put their employer at risk for lawsuits by failing to follow strict procedures for blood collecting. The risk of misdiagnosis is very high when the phlebotomist fails to properly draw, identify, and store the specimen. Doctors could prescribe the wrong medication based on incorrect blood test results, putting the patient at serious risk.
 
One incident in California has become infamous, in which the phlebotomist reused needles on several patients. This catastrophe was the beginning of minimal regulatory standards for phlebotomists in California. The governor signed Assembly Bill 1557, which stipulates new training and continuing education requirements for the state"s phlebotomy technicians.
 
What Is California"s Solution?
 
The California Department of Public Health now recognizes three different kinds of phlebotomists:

- Limited Phlebotomy Technician: May do skin puncture blood collection only.
- Certified Phlebotomy Technician I: May do venipuncture and skin punctures.
- Certified Phlebotomy Technician II: Authorized to do venipuncture, arterial puncture, and skin punctures.

To become a CPT I, one must be a high school graduate or its equivalent, and fulfill 40 hours of phlebotomy class training from an approved school. Forty hours of practice must also be completed, which must include a minimum of 50 venipunctures and 10 skin punctures. A passing score must be obtained on an approved phlebotomy certification exam. 
 
Continuing education hours further ensure the technician will be up-to-date on the latest procedures.
Six hours are required every two years at an approved Laboratory Field Services.
By Chris Navarro
Get Phlebotomy Jobs, Contributing Editor

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