Hospital & Lab Safety Patient Satisfaction Phlebotomy

5 Struggles Phlebotomists Understand Best

Phlebotomists have a challenging job that requires knowledge, dedication, and amazing attention to detail.

Not all sticks and draws go smoothly, even for the most experienced phlebotomists. Different patients can present unique challenges, and communication across units sometimes isn’t as clear as it could be.

Still, the best overcome these bumps in the road with a smile on their faces because they know they pursued a critical and fulfilling healthcare career that ultimately saves lives.

Here are five struggles phlebotomists understand best.

Blown veins: There are many causes of this unfortunate yet typically harmless event. While an oversized needle or incorrect insertion can cause a vein to blow, sensitive and fragile vein walls also are often to blame. Blown veins can be frightening for both patients and phlebotomists, especially new phlebotomists. However, when proper care and supplies are applied there is usually nothing to worry about.

Finding patients in transition: Your hospital or healthcare facility could have the most detailed and thorough staff in the world, but mistakes and misunderstandings still will happen. Sometimes a patient is reassigned to a different room before the change can be documented. That often leaves phlebotomists scrambling while trying to complete a massive rounds list. All in a day’s work.

Needle-fearing patients:
People with trypanophobia (fear of needles and injections) come in all ages and from all walks of life. A burly biker might pass out every time he sees a needle, and a seemingly delicate grandmother could have more tattoos than fingers. Phlebotomists quickly learn that books can’t be judged by their covers in this line of work. Young children, too, have vastly different attitudes about needles. Some may kick and scream and others will sustain any discomfort to get that sucker or totally cool sticker.

Poor blood flow/lack of hydration: Not every draw is a quick one, even if the patient has lots of easy-to-find draw sites. Water drinking habits can have impact blood thickness, as can certain conditions such as polycythemia vera. Sometimes your patient might ask what is taking so long and you know it has nothing to do with your technique or equipment. It can be difficult to explain to someone that they have “thick blood” without sounding negative.

Back strain/standing for long periods of time/bending:
Many people work on their feet for a living, but blood draws often require a specific set of repetitive motions that can be taxing on the body. All of the bending and turning from workstation to patient can result in some serious knots — or worse. Experienced phlebotomists know the importance of using draw chairs, stations, and supplies that fit their unique work style.

We’d love to hear about ways you overcome these struggles. What solutions do you love?  What solutions can we create for you?


  • Susan
    July 29, 2016 - 11:18 pm | Permalink

    For every repetitive action do an opposite and equal action. Stretch a bit before each draw. Make a fist with one hand and place it behind your back. Bring your other hand behind your back and grasp your fist. Pull the fist up along your back muscles gently in a lifting motion to relieve tension and ache.

    • Aaron Ogg
      August 5, 2016 - 9:11 am | Permalink

      Great suggestion, Susan! Thank you!

  • August 29, 2016 - 11:42 pm | Permalink

    Wow, I had no idea that your blood thickness can be impacted by how hydrated you are. I know I don’t drink as much water as I should, so I wonder what condition my blood is in. Does a thick blood consistency have a negative impact on your health? Maybe I should ask a phlebotomist for tips. They deal with blood all the time, so I’m sure they have lots of useful suggestions.

    • Aaron Ogg
      August 31, 2016 - 4:07 pm | Permalink

      Hi Kairi, thanks for reading! Yes, we would definitely recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare professional regarding this and other health matters. This blog in no way should be considered a source for such information. We’re just writing about some of the things we know phlebotomists deal with on a regular basis. 🙂

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