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Phlebotomists Duties: What Exactly does a Phlebotomist do?

written by: Victoria Trix•edited by: DaniellaNicole•updated: 1/31/2009

You may have heard the term Phlebotomist but what exactly are the duties of a Phlebotomist and what does a Phlebotomist do?

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    Phlebotomists Duties

    Phlebotomists duties and responsibilities center around the obtaining and proper handling of human blood. The basic services of the phlebotomist include taking blood samples from patients and correctly cataloging them for lab analysis, but the importance of the phlebotomist is far more critical than this simple description implies.

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    Phlebotomists Duties: Critical Responsibilities

    Since phlebotomists have an extremely high potential to be exposed to blood borne diseases and contaminants, the level of caution and expertise they use in the execution of their duties is critical to their own safety as well as all others that may be exposed to the fluid samples they draw. Under the direction of a physician or other licensed health care professional, phlebotomists duties includes collecting samples of blood and other fluids from patients. Prior to collection, it is the phlebotomist’s responsibility to assure that all collection instruments and environments are sterile and of first use.

    After sample collection, the phlebotomists duties will include correctly labeling the collection container with pertinent patient information for identification, and subsequently must complete and file companion paperwork to trace the route of the sample from collection through lab work through final analysis and diagnosis and finally to proper disposal of the fluids. Any error in the job of a phlebotomist can have consequences that range from misdiagnosis to fatal contamination. In addition, phlebotomists on a hospital staff will also be required to train other phlebotomists in sample collection and follow up.

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    Additional Phlebotomists Duties

    Some phlebotomists duties, for example those that conduct home care visits, will also include being responsible for transportation of fluid samples between the sample site and the laboratory. In some cases the phlebotomists duties will also include being responsible for performing certain functions to process blood samples for further analysis by attending medical professionals.

    Phlebotomists that work in a laboratory environment have the added task of ensuring that samples are correctly analyzed by enforcing quality control and safety measures to prevent the contamination of samples during analysis.

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    Phlebotomists Duties: Education and Career

    Phlebotomy training is obtained by passing a one year vocational program which is offered through technical schools or community colleges. Many community colleges also offer associate’s degree programs in phlebotomy. In addition to becoming certified as a phlebotomist, some states will require licensing or registration.

    A certified phlebotomist can expect an annual salary ranging from $20,000 to $48,000, with an increase in demand for services expected through 2012. As the demand increases, more facilities will require pre-certification of phlebotomists before they are hired, to reduce the impact of liability.

    Phlebotomists' duties and services are usually scheduled, rather than performed under emergency situations. Given this fact, phlebotomists usually have the benefit of shift hours that match regular office hours, which is a luxury not typically found in the medical profession.