Tips for phlebotomists to avoid exposure to bloodborne pathogens

Phlebotomists in Pennsylvania do patients a great service by drawing blood in the safest manner possible. However, for phlebotomists themselves, safety is also an important priority. As a phlebotomist, there is always a risk of exposure to illnesses present in the patient from whom blood is being drawn. Those in the position of drawing blood and handling samples can reduce the chance of being exposed to one of these pathogens by following some simple safety protocols.

Safe phlebotomy procedures

The proper handling of devices and samples is a necessary step to ensure optimal sanitation and protection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises the following procedures for all phlebotomists.

  • The only supplies that should be allowed into a patient's treatment area are those that are necessary for the procedure.
  • Blood specimens should not be stored near any areas for preparation of medications, or by any medications.
  • Before drawing a patient's blood, all tubes should already be labeled.
  • Phlebotomists have access to hand sanitation. Their hands should be sanitized before and after procedures.
  • Tubes should always be placed on clean surfaces. If a surface cannot be properly cleaned, it should not have any tubes placed on it.

In addition, the actual procedure should be conducted using aseptic technique. By adhering to these methods, the CDC states that contamination can be avoided.

Protective measures for health workers

The National Center for Biotechnology Information advises that all health workers implement protective measures. It may be necessary to use eye protection if anticipating a larger amount of blood exposure. In the case of sampling from arteries, for instance, visors and masks provide an extra layer of protection.

Regardless of patients or the location from which a sample is to be drawn, non-sterile gloves that are well-fitting should always be worn. When transitioning between patients, a new pair of gloves should always be exchanged for the pair that was last being used.

Gloves of a variety of different sizes should be made available to accommodate different workers.

Proper equipment for drawing blood

After use, needles should be immediately disposed into a proper sharps container. All needles that are used should be single-use needles that are completely sterile. Some devices come with safety features, such as retractable lancets and needle covers. Additional equipment engineered for safety is generally advised to be restricted to procedures that pose a greater chance of sharps injury.

Even when working with safe practices and protective measures, phlebotomists may be exposed to pathogens. Any injury sustained on the job can be costly in terms of medical expenses and lost work time. Those injured have a right to pursue financial compensation. If you contract a disease at work, you may be eligible for workers compensation benefits. Contact a skilled workers' compensation lawyer in Pennsylvania for more information on such cases.