I’m hoping most of you know what phlebotomy is; for the few who don’t, let me break it down. Phlebotomy is the practice of drawing blood for various medical purposes and a practice that plays a crucial role in healthcare settings. When you or any patient arrives at a healthcare facility, such as an NHS hospital, there’s a high chance that you will meet a phlebotomist, as taking blood is paramount for accurate diagnoses and patient care. However, the role itself is often overlooked and has for years been losing the number of staff trained for phlebotomy.
As we move into 2024, post-pandemic, the need for well-trained phlebotomists becomes increasingly evident as the demand for healthcare services continues to rise. This blog post delves into the significance of phlebotomy training in healthcare and why it is essential for individuals aspiring to work in this field.
Addressing the Needs of an Ageing Population
As our population ages, the demand for healthcare services and trained staff such as phlebotomists grows. Older adults often require more frequent medical assessments and monitoring, which leads to increasing reliance on phlebotomy services. As well as more mobile phlebotomists travelling to people’s homes, phlebotomy drop-in hubs have become ever more popular, which is especially handy for the older population who are less able to book a dedicated time and drop-in when their health allows.
Increased access to phlebotomy services wouldn’t be possible without the role phlebotomy training plays in meeting the unique needs of this demographic by ensuring that healthcare professionals possess the skills and knowledge necessary to provide safe and effective blood collection procedures for elderly patients.
Challenges during phlebotomy procedure
Ageing populations are often associated with physiological changes that can pose challenges during phlebotomy procedures, which makes phlebotomy training in healthcare settings even more important. Vein fragility, decreased blood flow, and underlying medical conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease are common concerns encountered when drawing blood from older adults. Phlebotomy training in healthcare courses addresses these challenges by educating professionals on specialised techniques for venepuncture in elderly patients, including proper vein assessment, gentle handling, and strategies for minimising discomfort and complications. It’s important to know what to do in situations such as this, and although hands-on training is vital to learn and grow, if someone hasn’t spent time with elderly patients before, then knowing what to do can be difficult.
Accuracy in Medical Diagnoses
One of the primary reasons for the importance of phlebotomy training lies in its contribution to accurate medical diagnoses. Blood samples collected during phlebotomy procedures are vital for conducting various diagnostic tests, including blood counts, cholesterol levels, glucose levels, and infectious disease screenings. Improper blood collection techniques can lead to contaminated or insufficient samples, resulting in inaccurate test results and potentially incorrect diagnoses.
History of Medical Diagnoses
The history of phlebotomy for medical diagnoses dates back centuries, maybe even back to the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans in 3000BC. Though they never had the technology back then to determine exact diagnoses, they still believed blood draw balanced the body’s humours and treated various ailments, and that fundamental role in medical diagnosis remains a cornerstone of healthcare practice to this day. Of course, our beliefs have adapted to science-based data with more positive achievable results in healthcare.
Patient Safety and Comfort
Modern-day phlebotomy training emphasises the importance of patient safety and comfort during blood collection procedures. Proper training equips phlebotomists with the skills to locate suitable veins, minimise discomfort during venipuncture, and handle adverse reactions such as fainting or hematoma formation. Though training is the key to patient safety, in this job, we’ve seen many badly taken blood draws that, with the right training course, have alleviated patient suffering. Don’t forget everything in phlebotomy counts, from how you hold the vials in your hand to the placement of the needle and the significance of maintaining a sterile environment to prevent the risk of infections and ensure patient well-being.
Efficiency in Healthcare Delivery
Efficiency is crucial in healthcare settings where time is of the essence. Well-trained phlebotomists can perform blood collection procedures swiftly and accurately, reducing patient waiting times and improving overall workflow efficiency. In hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities, timely blood sample collection is essential for conducting diagnostic tests promptly, enabling healthcare providers to make informed decisions about patient care and treatment plans. In most healthcare settings, blood results can be returned from the lab within hours to a day. It’s very unlikely that someone has to wait more than 24 hours, and with more trained phlebotomists and lab technicians, that time will get faster.
We see a difference around the UK with hotspots for labs and phlebotomists. We hope that with a push to train more phlebotomists and lab technicians, we open up the parts of the UK that currently struggle with waiting times. This is mainly applicable to healthcare organisations outside of hospitals.
Contribution to Medical Research and Clinical Trials
Phlebotomy also plays a vital role in medical research and clinical trials. Researchers rely on accurately collected blood samples to study diseases, develop new treatments, and assess the efficacy of medical interventions. Without proper phlebotomy training, the integrity of research data may be compromised, leading to unreliable results and hindering scientific progress in healthcare.
Role in Public Health Initiatives
In addition to individual patient care, phlebotomy training contributes to public health initiatives aimed at disease prevention and control. Blood samples collected during routine screenings and population-based surveys help identify emerging health threats, track disease prevalence, and monitor the effectiveness of public health interventions. Trained phlebotomists are crucial in facilitating these initiatives by ensuring the accurate and timely collection of blood samples from diverse populations.
Supporting Healthcare Professionals
Phlebotomists provide invaluable support to healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, and laboratory technicians. By ensuring the timely and accurate collection of blood samples, phlebotomists enable healthcare providers to focus on diagnosing and treating patients effectively. In settings such as hospitals and laboratories, phlebotomists collaborate closely with other healthcare team members, demonstrating the importance of their role in delivering comprehensive patient care.
In conclusion, phlebotomy training in healthcare is indispensable in serving as the cornerstone of accurate diagnoses, patient safety, and efficient healthcare delivery. As the demand for healthcare services grows, the need for well-trained phlebotomists becomes increasingly critical. By investing in comprehensive phlebotomy training, healthcare organisations can ensure the quality and reliability of blood collection procedures, ultimately improving patient outcomes and advancing the field of healthcare as a whole.