No matter how long you have worked in the field of phlebotomy, you cannot grow negligent when it comes to following proper safety procedures. Phlebotomists routinely deal with needles, which puts them at risk of dealing with blood borne pathogens. Additionally, there may be instances of a spill, in which the phlebotomist has to safely clean up blood to prevent the possible transmission of diseases.
Needle Stick Injuries
Unfortunately, needle stick injuries are far too common in the medical profession. This is a particularly nasty hazard for phlebotomists because they run the risk of contracting diseases like HIV or Hepatitis if they accidentally prick themselves with a used needle. Always use proper safety techniques whenever you are handling needles. From uncapping to disposal, you should never put yourself at risk of a needle piercing your skin. Always be sure to dispose of needles in the proper receptacle as well; never throw them in a trashcan. It may seem like a bit of an exaggeration, but you should treat needles as carefully as you would a loaded gun because the consequences of a need stick injury can be severe.
No matter how well trained a phlebotomist is, some procedures are more difficult than others are. Certain procedures inevitably lend themselves to the risk of blood squirting out of a vein. Additionally, accidents do happen and sometimes a specimen may fall off a tray and shatter on the floor. Do not make the mistake of assuming that because the blood has been exposed to air that there is no risk of blood borne pathogens. Always wear all the required disposable personal protection equipment to insure that you can clean up the spill safely. Do not be in such a hurry to clean up the mess that you skip necessary safety procedures. Make sure you thoroughly clean and sanitize any affected areas.
Most phlebotomists put on and take off their gloves so many times per day that they may grow complacent and forget how important they are. Your gloves are your first line of defense when it comes to safely collecting and handling specimens. Do not rush putting on your gloves and leave the latex loose or dangling. Gloves that are too tight may snap or break, thereby exposing your bare flesh. On the other end of the spectrum, gloves that are too loose may rip and cause you problems while performing venipuncture procedures. Always make sure to wear proper fitting gloves that snugly protect your skin.
There was a good reason you learned about safety procedures during your phlebotomy training, it was for your own protection. When it comes to performing medical procedures, phlebotomists can pay a high price if they grow careless. Remember your safety training and do not ever fool yourself into thinking you can skip steps just because you are in a hurry.
About the Author: Damian Jacquot works for a health clinic and sometimes buys his own gloves to ensure they fit properly.