by Dennis Ernst • March 09, 2017
Question: Sometimes I need help when performing a difficult draw, so I find someone who can work the syringe while I insert the butterfly needle and keep it in place. My manager is telling me that's not acceptable or appropriate because it doubles the risk of a needlestick. I think it's actually safer since if I'm holding the needle I don't have to be distracted by working the syringe. Most of my coworkers agree and want to continue the practice. Besides, that's the way we were taught in school. What should we do?
Our response: Your manager is correct to ban the practice. Four hands performing a blood draw are two too many. It only takes one hand to work the needle and one to work the syringe. The only time two people are required to draw a blood sample is when one of them is needed to provide physical or emotional support.
If you commonly move the needle while filling a syringe, keep your eyes on the needle, not the syringe. You can also work to reduce your usage of butterfly sets. Limit them to small and fragile veins, such as those encountered in oncology, geriatric and neonatal venipunctures. The fewer butterfly sets you use, the less frequently you'll feel a second person is required to complete the draw.
The school that teaches doubling up should be approached by your manager to discontinue teaching this method since it's creating problems for their students when they enter the field. Using two phlebotomists to perform one venipuncture is not consistent with the policies of any facility we are aware of.
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