What a patient can expect when visiting a hospital or clinic can vary wildly from one facility to another and from country to country, but in the US, you will experience the same general steps to a successful blood draw. Performed by a specialist called a phlebotomist, the blood draw process starts with general medical questions like your name, age, and previous medical history. These pieces of personal information are verified against the requisition placed by the doctor. If they do not match, the phlebotomist cannot continue with the procedure. Once the technician has confirmed the identity of the patient, the phlebotomist will then go over his or her equipment and make sure the necessary tools, such as vacuum tubes, needles, and tourniquets are there. Following this, the technician will then don gloves and begin the procedure.
The phlebotomist places a tourniquet on the upper arm to make the vein bulge. With a normal patient, the median cubital vein is the vessel most appropriate for blood draw. It is close to the skin enabling easy access, and is nowhere near large bundles of nerves, limiting pain. Located on the inside of the arm and near the elbow, this puncture site is the most common for all ages. A traditional needle in syringe method is rarely used in medicine today; they have been replaced by the far more efficient Vacutainer system. A hypodermic needle is inserted into the hub and one of any number of different vacuum tubes are placed on the end which then pull the blood from the vein through a vacuum seal. When the required amount of blood is removed, the phlebotomist removes the needle, sanitizes the venipuncture site and preps the samples for testing.
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