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Phlebotomy (from the Greek words phlebo-, meaning "pertaining to a blood vessel", and -tomy, meaning "to make an incision") is the process of making an incision in a vein with a needle. The procedure itself is known as a venipuncture. A person who performs phlebotomy is called a "phlebotomist", although doctors, nurses, medical laboratory scientists and others do portions of phlebotomy procedures in many countries.
Phlebotomists are people trained to draw blood from a patient for clinical or medical testing, transfusions, donations, or research. Phlebotomists collect blood primarily by performing venipunctures, (or, for collection of minute quantities of blood, fingersticks). Blood may be collected from infants by means of a heel stick. The duties of a phlebotomist may include properly identifying the patient, interpreting the tests requested on the requisition, drawing blood into the correct tubes with the proper additives, accurately explaining the procedure to the patients, preparing patients accordingly, practicing the required forms of asepsis, practicing standard and universal precautions, performing the skin/vein puncture, withdrawing blood into containers or tubes, restoring hemostasis of the puncture site, instructing patients on post-puncture care, ordering tests per the doctor's requisition, affixing tubes with electronically printed labels, and delivering specimens to a laboratory.
Some countries and districts/states require phlebotomy personnel to be licensed or registered:
In Australia, there are a number of courses in phlebotomy offered by educational institutions, but training is typically provided on the job. The minimum primary qualification for phlebotomists in Australia is a Certificate III in Pathology HLT 32607 or a Certificate IV in Pathology HLT41807 (from an approved educational institution); current senior first aid certification must be included.
In the UK there is no requirement for holding a formal qualification or certification prior to becoming a phlebotomist as training is usually provided on the job. The NHS offers training with formal certification upon completion.
Special state certification in the United States is required only in four states: California, Washington, Nevada, and Louisiana. A phlebotomist can become nationally certified through many different organizations. However, California currently only accepts national certificates from six agencies. These include: American Certification Agency (ACA), American Medical Technologists (AMT), American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), National Center for Competency Testing/Multi-skilled Medical Certification Institute (NCCT/MMCI), National Credentialing Agency (NCA), National Healthcareer Association (NHA), and National Phlebotomy Continuing Education (NPCE). These and other agencies also certify phlebotomists outside the state of California. In order to qualify to sit for an examination, candidates must complete of a full phlebotomy course and provide documentation of clinical or laboratory experience.
Early "Phlebotomists" used techniques such as leeches to extract blood from the body. It was used as a healing process, thought to remove toxins from the blood stream.