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Top 5 Ways To Help Prevent Phlebotomy Malpractice

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No occupation is safe from potential lawsuits. This seems to be especially true in the healthcare industry. Anybody can take legal action against another person, so these tips will certainly not make you exempt from a possible lawsuit, but will help you focus on areas that you can improve. Always keep in mind that the patients safety is priority and must constantly be put above everything else.

1. Always Follow Protocol.  A lot of medical facilities have strict policies to ensure patient safety and to avoid potential liability at all costs. Never ever let anything get in the way of patient safety. Never cut corners and constantly make use of appropriate waste/safety/hazardous/ containers and NEVER re-use needles or re-use equipment that is not sterile. Always remember PATIENT SAFETY IS TOP PRIORITY.

2. Listen To Your Patients.  Many of the suits involving phlebotomists consist of, at least in part, the phlebotomist not listening to the concerns of a patient. Many cases involve a patient informing the phlebotomy technician that they were in pain during the draw and the phlebotomists continuing to draw blood, leading to long-term damage to the patients arm (typically nerve damage). Another source of liability occurs from a patient falling or fainting after the procedure. This results from the phlebotomy technician not offering the patient a seat or bed afterwards resulting in injury. Do not let being in a rush result in negligence. Don't let taking a few additional minutes to gather yourself and properly address the circumstance, put your patients at risk and consequently cost you your job.

3.  Provide Good Communication and Always Acquire Informed Consent. Before collecting any sample from a patient (for minors you need to get permission from their parent / legal guardian) you need to verify that the patient has actually offered informed consent. It is extremely important that the patient has an extensive understanding of each procedure and that you are able to interact effectively when answering any questions or concerns that the patient may express. Never presume that the patient understands simply because you have advanced knowledge of a certain procedure. This may be your 5000th venipuncture, but your patients 1st. Never assume anything and make certain the patient has given informed consent before proceeding with any procedure. 

4. Document Everything Accurately and Completely. Many lawsuits have been lost in the medical field because of improper documentation. This is true for doctors, nurses, as well as phlebotomists. You can do everything correct but still lose a case because you didn't document it properly. In the eyes of the court if it is not in the chart it didn't happen. Mistakes in the chart can also hurt your credibility as a professional.  Some great clinicians have been found liable because they didn't use the same meticulous work ethic to their charts as they did with their patient care. So if your going to put all the time and effort into becoming an excellent phlebotomist, make sure you take some additional time to ensure that your documentation is finished completely and accurately.

5. Master Your Training and Stay Sharp. Mahatma Ghandi once said "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”  Never stop looking for ways to improve. This statement not only applies to your work but should be utilized in all facets of life. Even if you have several years of experience as a phlebotomist, you should always seek ways to further your development and master your craft . Things are constantly evolving in the healthcare industry. New treatments, techniques, sterilization/decontamination methods, modifications to HIPAA, electronic health records, to only name a few. See to it that you are not utilizing outdated information and identify any bad habits you may have developed over the course of your career.  All it takes is one bad habit to potentially put you at risk for future liability. 



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