Phlebotomist Salaries Show Improvement
Phlebotomist salaries are gaining ground. So says a 2010 ADVANCE salary survey that lists the national average annual salary for a phlebotomist at $29,738.(1) This figure represents a 13 percent increase over the phlebotomist average salary reported by ADVANCE in 2008 of $26,297.(2) According to survey results published in the March issue of Medical Laboratory Observer, phlebotomy salaries average $31,970. No 2008 data was reported.
Salary.com calculates the U.S. national average median income for phlebotomists to be $29,407, which is in keeping with the latest ADVANCE survey results. According to Salary.com, the salary spectrum for phlebotomists ranges from the lowest 10 percent earning $23,802 to the top 10 percent earning $35,438 and higher.(3)
Factors affecting the wide variation in salaries include location and cost of living, years of experience, competition, labor shortages, and the type of facility where employed. So where will laboratorians find the highest salaries? Geographically, the Pacific region of the country (AK, HI, CA, OR, WA) offers the highest wages followed by the Middle Atlantic (NJ, PA, NY) and New England states.(1) But these areas typically have a higher cost of living compared to the national average. In terms of facility type, reference and commercial laboratories along with VA Medical Centers usually pay more than hospitals, with public health laboratories and physician office laboratories paying the least.(1)
Director Pens Cover Story on Phlebotomy Liability Insurance
The Center for Phlebotomy Education's Executive Director, Dennis J. Ernst MT(ASCP), authored the cover story in the latest issue of Advance for Medical Laboratory Professionals. The piece debates the need for phlebotomists to obtain liability insurance to protect their assets should a patient claim an injury occurred during a blood draw. Mr. Ernst also discusses the best insurance anyone with blood collection responsibilities can obtain. Link to article.
Ernst Speaking in Ireland
Phlebotomy Today editor and Center for Phlebotomy Education Executive Director, Dennis J. Ernst, MT(ASCP) returns to Ireland this month to address attendees of the Phlebotomists Association of Ireland annual conference in Dublin. On March 12, Ernst will give two presentations: “Successful Strategies for Difficult Draws” covers the most challenging situations healthcare professionals are confronted with when drawing blood for laboratory testing. “Potassium Results Your Physicians Can Trust” examines the multitude of ways potassium results can be altered during collection or processing leading physicians to question patient test results.For more information visit www.pairl.ie.
This Month in Phlebotomy Today
Here’s what subscribers to Phlebotomy Today, the Center for Phlebotomy Education’s paid-subscription newsletter currently in its 12th year of publication, are reading about this month:
For subscription rates and to subscribe to Phlebotomy Today, click here. The current month’s issue will be emailed to you immediately upon subscribing.
Q: Most of our phlebotomists have the patient bend the arm up to facilitate clotting. I recently had a nurse comment that she heard it was not appropriate. Who’s right?
A: The nurse is correct. Bending the arm up is not an adequate substitute for pressure and can lead to a hematoma. Besides being unsightly, hematomas can lead to nerve damage by placing pressure on the nerves. According to the CLSI standards, direct pressure is required.
The patient may be recruited to apply pressure, but it is ultimately the collector’s responsibility to assure pressure is adequate. To assure adequate pressure, the collector can observe the nail beds of the patient’s fingers that are applying pressure. If they are whitish, it’s a strong indication that he/she is pressing down hard enough. If the nail beds of the finger(s) applying pressure remain pinkish, pressure is probably inadequate. The collector must, therefore, be prepared to take over if the patient doesn't seem to be applying enough pressure.
Each month, PT-STAT! will publish one of the hundreds of phlebotomy FAQs in the growing database of questions and answers available in Phlebotomy Central, the members-only section of the Center for Phlebotomy Education's website. For information on joining Phlebotomy Central, click here.
Our latest survey polled visitors to our website regarding their primary reason for choosing a winged blood-collection set (butterfly) over a straight needle when drawing blood. The results are below:
Approximately 29 percent of those surveyed gave two or more of the reasons above for selecting a butterfly to draw blood, with 48 percent of this group indicating that their device selection is based on the patient being a child or infant, and the fragile nature of the patient’s veins.
Respondents were also asked to consider all the venipunctures they perform and estimate the percentage of draws that require the number of tubes specified. The results are summarized in Table 1:
Table 1 Percentage Estimates
Approximately one-fourth (23%) of survey participants indicated that all blood draws they perform require five tubes or less, with 45 percent of respondents stating that 90% of draws they conduct require one to five tubes, and that 10% of all collections require six to ten tubes. Interestingly, two percent of those surveyed reported drawing 21+ tubes during a single collection, which constituted 10 percent of the total venipunctures performed by this group.
When asked what their routine practice is when advancing tubes into a tube holder, 59 percent of those surveyed stated that they advance the tube as far as it will go into the tube holder and then release pressure. Forty-one percent indicated that they slowly advance the tube into the tube holder to the point where blood enters the tube.
Survey participants self-identified as phlebotomists/phlebotomy instructors/phlebotomy supervisors (61%), clinical laboratory scientists/lab techs (32%), nurses (5%), and medical assistants (2%).
This month’s survey question:
What Should We Do?
[Editor’s Note: "What Should We Do?" gives you the opportunity to ask our team of technical experts for advice on your most pressing phlebotomy challenges. Whether technical or management in nature, we'll carefully consider solutions and suggestions based on the industry's best practices so that you and those in other facilities with the same problem can benefit, all the while maintaining your facility's anonymity. What Should We Do? is your opportunity to ask us for suggestions on the best way to handle your real-life dilemmas.]
Our Response: Although some publications caution against such draws, CLSI in its venipuncture standard does not prohibit draws from an arm affected by a stroke. To our knowledge, nothing has been published in the literature on the effect of a stroke on blood tests drawn from an affected limb.
However, difficulties encountered when drawing blood from such patients may include veins that are harder to locate, edema, inability to clench the fist and/or hyperextend the arm, and not being able to communicate his/her name during the identification step. According to CLSI, a caregiver or family member should be asked to provide the patient's name when patients can't communicate it themselves. Because of the patient care issues that may come into play, always refer to your facility’s policy.
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