Friday, July 17, 2015

Where Are All the Great Phlebotomists?

     I've had a great phlebotomist take my blood once.  When I write "great," I mean he was kind and pleasant, kept me distracted the entire time and took my blood quickly and efficiently.  Above all, it didn't hurt and I didn't bruise.

     Just once.

     I remember he was an older African-American man, maybe in his mid-fifties.  He called me in and asked if he said my name correctly.  He talked to me the entire time, asking how I was feeling that day and if I come in often.  He sounded very reassuring and his voice was calm and confident.  I told him I don't like needles or seeing blood, and he laughed and said he'd never met anyone who did like those things.  He explained what he was going to do and promised it would be as quick and painless as possible.  Before I knew it, it was over.  I didn't even feel the "small pinch."  I told him this was honestly my best lab experience ever, and he was humbly appreciative (just doing his job as best he could).  He told me I could always request his service if he was in the lab that day, but I never saw him again.

     I miss that guy.  If I knew what lab he went to, I would go there and request his service every time.

     Most of my lab tests are okay, nothing exceptional.  As long as whomever I get doesn't hurt me and doesn't do anything obviously unsanitary or unprofessional, I'm okay with the process.  I do wish the process was faster, but I also understand the need to be 100% sure blood and names/birth dates/lab orders match and are taken correctly.  

     I have experienced two very bad tests, resulting in major bruising and painful draws.  I remember who those two phlebotomists were, and if I am called by them again I will request someone else.  I don't know if they made a mistake with me or they just weren't very good, but I'm not willing to risk that type of experience again.  My most recent test lasted at least 20 minutes because I got the inexperienced new kid.  I even had to remind him to do certain steps (scary, when you think about it).  New guys should have a mentor watching over them, don't you think?

     Three suggestions for phlebotomists:
  1. Be kind and pleasant.  The process itself is unpleasant, so part of your job is to be nice.
  2. Be great at drawing blood.  Be sanitary, be quick, be painless.
  3. Be 100% accurate.  Check the name, check the order, check the labels on the vials.

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