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Phlebotomist: How Disease Can Affect Blood Draws

There are certain diseases that affect the elderly. These diseases can make blood specimen collection more challenging for the phlebotomist. The following is a list of diseases and considerations a phlebotomist should be aware of:

Arthritis There are two basic types of arthritis- osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. A patient with osteoarthritis will most often be affected in the hips and knees and may have a difficult time getting in and out of a blood-drawing chair. A patient with rheumatoid arthritis usually has problems with the connective tissues throughout the body. Both types of arthritis could restrict the patient's movement making it difficult to straighten an arm or open a hand. Whenever possible, a phlebotomist should use an arm that is not affected. If that is not possible then the patient should be placed in a comfortable position. A butterfly needle with 12-inch tubing can be used to access veins from awkward angles.

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Coagulation Problems Patients who have coagulation problems or who take blood thinning medictions because of heart problems or strokes are at an increased risk of hematoma formation when blood is collected. The phlebotomist should ensure that adequate pressure is used on the site until the bleeding has stopped.

Diabetes Diabetes is a disease that can affects circulation, particularly in the lower extremities. Patients with diabetes should not attempt venipuncture in the leg, ankle and foot veins. Regular blood glucose tests can make the collection more difficult.

Parkinson's Disease and Stroke Both of these diseases can affect speech making it difficult for the patient and phlebotomist to communicate effectively. Patient's with Parkinson's disease may have tremors of the hands, making blood collection more challenging.

Pulmonay Function Problems An elderly person is more susceptible to catching colds and influenza. The phlebotomist, who is sick, should refrain from drawing blood from an elderly person.