Phlebotomy Injuries: Why Do Phlebotomists Make Such Mistakes?

Phlebotomy, the science of drawing a patient’s blood for laboratory purposes, can harm the patient or the sampler if the sampler fails to employ extreme caution and strictly adhere to phlebotomy order of draw. A needle that goes too deep or strikes a nerve or artery instead of a vein can cause serious injury. However, according to research phlebotomy which can also be referred to as venesection is unfortunately regulated inappropriately in many countries, leading mostly private institutions to hire and pay phlebotomists very low salaries and give them very poor training too.


Phlebotomists use a procedure called venipuncture to obtain blood samples from patients. With the patient sitting or lying down, the sampler binds to the patient’s extended wide arm with a tourniquet and selects the vein for blood collection. The sampler then inserts a hollow needle into the vein at an angle, draws the sample quickly and removes the needle. According to Spencer University C. Eccles Health Sciences Library of Utah, to avoid bruising or other tissue damage the collector must pierce the center of the vein without digging or sounding.


Most of the injuries gotten from phlebotomy is usually a nerve damage. Research shows that a sampler can inject into the nerve thinking it’s the vein without knowing he missed it, which can result to severe pain or cause a damage that can end up paralyzing the limb affected.  Other injuries can be procured when the needle pierces through the vein and hits an artery or even causing bruises to the vein. Any of these can result in severe internal bleeding. There are also injuries that are not caused by the needle such as when a patient passes over and injures himself during a fall.


Avoid damaging nerve from a poorly administered blood sample can result in a condition known as “claw hand,” according to The New York Times. Sometimes when a hand is affected, the fingers on it begins to abnormally curl which can totally damage the hand, making it useless eventually. More serious cases can get to the stage were the hand or even the arm can lose its functionality totally. in some cases, patients may experience shooting pains through the arm and numbness to external stimuli.

The Reasons

As per Washington Post, in many states, specialization training is not required in phlebotomy. Most medical personnel performing phlebotomy. Phlebotomists who are not trained accordingly leads to misdiagnosis of blood draws and they incur injuries to patients. Finding or isolating a vein is even tough for some samplers who are experienced.


Although there is no study of overall injury rates for phlebotomy procedures, The New York Times mentions that some counselors have made a career teaching healthcare staff to avoid being sued by more patients botched during phlebotomy procedures. Medical professionals may also receive injuries caused by phlebotomy needles themselves. Research shows that six percent of all sharp-instrument injuries in medical facilities happened through the wrong pierce caused by the needle in phlebotomy, and ninety-four percent of those injuries pose infection threats.

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