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May, 2016


Books for Pediatric Patients About Their Blood Draw

When you're a young patient, healthcare can be a scary place. Within hours of birth, most newborns are welcomed into their new worldly home with a sharp poke to the foot. It's not very welcoming, and a good thing they don't remember. As they grow, they learn needles usually inflict pain. According to pediatric pain specialist Dr. Amy Baxter, MD, 63 percent of all children are afraid of needles. Small wonder since children in the U.S. are mandated to have 36 vaccines by the time they reach the age of six.

While a multitude of distraction techniques and cards, numbing products, and other approaches address pediatric pain during blood collection, several children's books are also available to teach children what to expect and why blood testing is necessary and important. Phlebotomy Today-STAT! provides this review.


SoYouHaveToHaveABloodTestTEFESASo You Have to Have a Blood Test?
Publisher: Minister for Employment, Training and Further Education, South Australia (TAFE SA)
Year of Publication: 2011

Colorful characters named Sally Syringe and Neville Needle walk children through the process of getting their blood drawn. The booklet has its origins in a research activity conducted by Australia's Minister for Employment, Training and Further Education, South Australia (TAFE SA). Since the study involved venipunctures on children, it occurred to the researchers neither parents nor children had anything to prepare themselves for a blood test. To meet the need, the agency produced the booklet, targeting infants on up to teenagers.

"Our government pathology company, SA Pathology, purchased enough copies for all of their collection centres," says Trudy Dalgetty, TAFE SA Pathology Coordinator. "Initial feedback was good, especially as it is written in story form and the children can color in the back pages. It has been very beneficial in the hospital environment."

Availability: TAFE SA web site.


SaraAnn_400wSarah Ann Needs a CBC
Author: Jim Carroll
publisher: Xlibris
Year of publication: 2003

According to the author, this book was written for 9- 12-year olds and is intended not only to help them overcome their fears of having a blood sample withdrawn, but "hopefully they will learn some basic hematology." Sara Ann is very active and athletic, but one day she does not feel well. The doctor orders a CBC, but she's afraid of the needle. The doctor´s office suggests she watch a video that explains what a CBC is to eliminate her fears. Characters in the video Sarah watches include Charlie Circulatory System, Rudi Red Cell, Herman Hemoglobin, Lulu Leukocyte and Patti Platelet. Ned Needle and Betsy Butterfly relate how easy it is to take blood from people´s veins. With her fears put to rest, Sara Ann successfully has her blood sample taken.

Availability: Purchase online from Xlibris.


ParentsHandbookParents Handbook: Your Child's First Blood Test and What You Need to Know
Josephine Franco
Publisher: Dorrance Publishing
Year of Publication: 2011

According to the book's introduction, it is written to help parents get over fears and anxieties they have had in the past involving blood sampling in order to help their own children cope with what should be a simple, stress-free procedure. The bulk of the 96-page book dispels eleven myths of blood collection and the nature of testing. Other sections include answers to commonly asked questions, letters from patients, an extensive glossary of terms, and an illustrated children's story at the end of the book called "The Blood Cell Gang."

Availability: Amazon.com


SometimesWhenYouFeelBadAdventures of the Lab Explorers: Sometimes When You Feel Bad
Author: Deborah Brock
Publisher: BookSurge
Year of Publication: 2005

The author, a laboratory educator in Pendleton, South Carolina, began sketching laboratory characters that would become the essence of the Lab Explores series in 2000. By 2005, the characters Unit, Eri, Petri and Hema had coalesced and Sometimes When You Feel Bad was launched to teach children what getting their blood drawn was like and why it is necessary. According to a recent article in Advance for Medical Laboratory Professionals, Brock's work imparts an understanding of health on many levels.

"Each story I write not only has information about lab testing, but also encourages good health behavior," says Brock. "For example, in Petri's adventure, children are encouraged to wash their hands, especially after a break in their skin so they don't get germs in the cut."

Brock also stressed the importance of public awareness of the importance of the laboratory's role in healthcare. "The Lab Explorers may only play a small part in promoting our profession, but if we all did a little something to share about our profession, maybe more people would know and appreciate about our valuable contribution to healthcare."

Availability: American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science online bookstore


Oodie Goes to the Hospital
Publisher: Greiner Bio-One
Publication Year: 2015

Oodielogo_-2Greiner Bio-One created and published Oodie Goes to the Hospital, a colorfully illustrated children's book the company makes available to those who purchase their capillary collection products as part of their "Perfect Patient Promise" program. The book is intended to be placed in outpatient areas and given to younger patients. "Oodie the Greinersaurus," the company's dinosaur-like mascot, is the main character of the story that chronicles his trip to the hospital where he learns about the importance of blood testing.

"When dealing with young patients, the experience can be scary for the patient and time consuming for the phlebotomist," says Senior Marketing Manager Mackenzie Farone-Waite. "It has been shown that distracting patients can assist with patient comfort during these procedures and make it easier for the phlebotomist to get the sample. That's why we created this book."

Availability: Contact marketing@us.gbo.com


Ernst Interviewed by IGGBO

Ernst_Dennis_05_BW_200wDennis J. Ernst MT(ASCP) NCPT(NCCT), director of the Center for Phlebotomy Education and editor of the Phlebotomy Today family of enewsletters was recently interviewed by IGGBO, the Uber-like service putting phlebotomists and practitioners together. In the interview, conducted last month, Ernst talks about what made him leave the laboratory to start what has become a global resource to healthcare educators and professionals, what brings him the greatest satisfaction in his work, and what a typical day is like for him as the Director of the Center for Phlebotomy Education.

Read the interview.

From The Empowered Healthcare Manager Blog

EmpoweredManagerWelcomeScreenShot_500wEvery month we run an excerpt from our editor's popular blog, The Empowered Healthcare Manager.

The Top 15 Things You Won't Hear an Empowered Manager Say:

15. I sure wish I would have reviewed her background check.

14. [Starting any sentence with] To be perfectly honest with you...

13. [Ending any sentence with] ...just don't get caught.

12. That skull­-and­-crossbones tattoo on your hand... was that there when I hired you?

11. We only had five complaints on you last month. Good job.

10. I'll wait to see if the problem goes away by itself.

9. Nobody up the ladder is pushing me, so they must be satisfied with the quality of my work.

8. Only fifteen more years until I can retire.

7. It's already four o'clock. There's no sense in working on [your most dreaded task] today.

6. I wonder if I've gotten any emails in the last ten minutes.

5. I could easily delegate this to someone, but I think I'll do it myself.

4. I wonder if [name any employee] is a good fit here.

3. Who should I complement this month?

2. By the noise level out there, it sounds like the staff is really scrambling. I think I'll close my door.

1. I wonder why I wasn't invited to the leadership workshop.

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Podcast With Dr. Amy Baxter

Amy_Baxter-shot captionIn the March issue of Phlebotomy Today-STAT! we interviewed pediatric needle pain specialist Dr. Amy Baxter as that month's Mover & Shaker. We also posted a link to the podcast of Part 1 of our interview. This month we finish the conversation with a discussion on distraction, muscle-tightening techniques, and the right questions to ask of every patient to assess their fear of needles. 

Listen to the podcast.

Product Spotlight: Poster depicts impact of preanalytic errors

Do those who work with you and for you scoff at the many details you know are critical for every venipuncture? Do you need something that reinforces the importance of every step to your students and new hires? We thought so.

That's why the Center for Phlebotomy Education just released a new poster that connects the dots between preanalytical errors and patient outcomes. Blood Collection Errors and Their Impact on Patients is a 20 x 28-inch laminated chart listing over 40 errors that can be committed during the collection, transport, and handling of blood samples. A corresponding column lists the impact each error can have on the test result and patient. Examples include:

  • BloodCollectionSitesPoster_1000wERROR: Delay in transporting/testing coagulation specimens
  • POTENTIAL IMPACT: Stroke, thrombophlebitis, and pulmonary embolism caused by unwarranted modification to blood thinner dosage based on inaccurate aPTT result.

  • ERROR: improper mixing
  • POTENTIAL IMPACT: Patient mismanagement due to delays when anticoagulated tubes contain clots and must be recollected.

  • ERROR: patient misidentification
  • POTENTIAL IMPACT: Transfusion- or medication-related death. Misdiagnosis, medication error, and general patient mismanagement due to being treated according to the results of another patient.

  • ERROR: filling tubes in the wrong order
  • POTENTIAL IMPACT: Seizure and death from potassium carrying over from EDTA into tube to be tested for K+. Medication errors when additives carry over into coag tubes, falsely lengthening coagulation times and leading to unwarranted and life-threatening medication adjustments. Unnecessary antibiotic administration and prolonged hospitalization due to contaminated blood cultures.

  • ERROR: pouring blood from one tube into another
  • POTENTIAL IMPACT: Patient mismanagement/misdiagnosis & medication errors based on altered results, especially potassium. Stroke/hemorrhage due to unwarranted modification to blood thinner dosage. 

  • ERROR: underfilling heparin tubes
  • POTENTIAL IMPACT: Patient mismanagement and/or /misdiagnosis from altered potassium, sodium, ALT, AST, amylase, and lipase results.

This is a posterized version of one of the Center's SmartChartsTM, a series desktop reference materials in pdf format available for downloading at www.phlebotomy.com and free to all Phlebotomy Central members. Posting the Errors/Impacts poster in prominent areas provides poignant evidence to the entire staff of the importance of every step of blood collection, handling, and transportation.

 For more information and to purchase.

Movers & Shakers: Dan Scungio

Movers&ShakersThis month's Mover & Shaker is Dan Scungio, MT (ASCP) SLS, CQA (ASQ), aka, "Dan the Lab Safety Man." We consider him a M&S because he found a way to take his passion to a new level, impacting clinical laboratories far and wide. Besides being the Laboratory Safety Officer at the Sentara Health Care system based in Virginia, Mr. Scungio is a highly recruited speaker at state and national laboratory conferences as well as a volunteer member for CLSI helping to create safety guidelines. As Dan the Lab Safety Man, he consults with laboratories to improve their safety practices, conducts an annual Academy for Lab Safety Excellence, and makes books and DVDs available on his web site.

Dan is the go-to guy for the Center for Phlebotomy Education whenever we're stumped by a safety question on blood collection, handling, processing and transportation. Dan has authored several safety articles for prominent laboratory publications such as Medical Laboratory Observer (MLO), Advance for Administrators of the Laboratory, Clinical Lab Products, Medical Lab Management, and Clinical Laboratory Management Review (CLMR). Dan has also written the fourth edition of the Complete Guide to Laboratory Safety with Terry Jo Gile.

We asked if he would answer a few questions for us on how his career morphed into becoming a leading OSHA and lab safety consultant.

Phlebotomy Today-STAT!: What made you want to venture out as an OSHA consultant? Was there a pivotal moment?Dan-10 new

Scungio: I had been a lab manager for over 10 years when I was considering changing careers. I met Terry Jo Gile (known as "The Safety Lady") who spoke at a local conference, and we talked about the role of a lab safety officer. With her inspiration, I applied and accepted the position of Laboratory Safety Officer for a system of laboratories. It was a big job, and on my first day I learned that I did not have the eyes to see the safety issues that were occurring. Over time I learned that was the source of so many lab safety issues- it wasn't that people didn't care, it was that they hadn't been trained to develop their "Safety Eyes." They couldn't see what was wrong, and they didn't have the training to deal with the issues once they could see them. When Terry Jo approached me about working with her and becoming a lab safety consultant, I felt ready. We worked together until her retirement, and I have been working to open peoples' Safety Eyes ever since.

PT-STAT!: What brings you the greatest reward in being an entrepreneur?

Scungio: The greatest reward I experience in my business is when a client tells me my presentation or material was useful or valuable to them. My goal truly is to make people who work in labs everywhere safer, and if a small part of that message works, I am humbly gratified.

PT-STAT!: What do you see as the greatest challenge in your industry?

Biohazard triangleScungio: I see two great challenges in laboratory safety today. The first is what I see as an overall lack of focus on lab safety. Behaviors such as not wearing gloves or lab coats should never occur in today's world, but it is surprisingly prevalent. I hear from several clients that PPE compliance in labs is their biggest challenge. Why is that? What don't laboratorians understand about the dangers of chemicals and bloodborne pathogens? The problem is individual lack of safety ownership, and one of my goals is to promote that. The second major challenge in lab safety that I see has to do with training the next generations about safety. New graduates seem to have a better grasp of some safety issues. For instance, they might never consider handling samples without gloves, they have respect for the danger. On the other hand, they might think nothing of taking out their cell phone in the lab (with gloves on) to snap a picture and post it on the internet. Lab guidance tells us not to use personal electronic devices in the lab, but we know that in this technology age, these devices are not going away. How do we reconcile these things and keep safety at the forefront in a way staff will comply? It's a tricky problem that has to be discussed from different viewpoints.

PT-STAT!: At the end of your career, what would you like to be able to say was your single greatest accomplishment?

Scungio: I hope I can look back and see that overall, laboratories are safer places- fewer injuries and lab-acquired infections would be the result. Laboratorians would have a clearer safety perspective and ownership of their safety culture. That may sound Utopian, but I do not wish to accomplish this for my sake. I want those who work in the labs to have happy healthy lives to share with friends and family.

Visit Dan the Lab Safety Man's web site.

This Month in Phlebotomy Today

PT_logo-2012_400Here's what subscribers to Phlebotomy Today, the Center for Phlebotomy Education's flagship newsletter currently in its 17th year of publication, are reading about this month:

Feature Article
Journal Roundup, Part 1

On the Front Lines
Blood pressure cuffs as vein finders?

From the Editor's Desk
"As you wish, Buttercup"

Sticks, Staph, and Stuff
Risks of capillary collections

High-powered Talent
Compare yourself to your past, not your peers

What's Wrong Here?
A monthly image to test your powers of observations

Subscribe to Phlebotomy Today and get this issue immediately.

Survey Says: If I Could Pass a Law...

Last month we asked visitors to our web site and Phlebotomy Today-STAT! readers what laws they would like to enact for those who draw laboratory samples. Then we turned the tables and asked what laws they would have patients abide by. Our wannabe legislators chimed in with 43 laws pertaining to those who collect blood samples. a full 21 percent of those laws would mandate certification for those who draw blood. Nine percent mandated a formal training program, and another nine percent would require continuing education. Just as many laws were proposed that mandated positive patient identification. Other laws include:

  • Everyone must label specimens at the bedside;
  • Phlebotomists must not make more than two attempts;
  • Do not assume anything about a patient before you meet them. Treat them as the most important person you will be see that day.
  • Everyone must wear gloves and not rip the fingertips off;
  • Dress & act like a professional, and relax, so they will, too;
  • Nurses are not allowed to draw blood;
  • Make an effort to learn how to pronounce surnames, especially those of the dominant ethnicity;
  • Never use the basilic vein;
  • Follow CLSI policies;
  • Remember the patient's rights;
  • If the phlebotomist is uncomfortable with patient or situation, another co-worker can be requested to collect, without penalty/discrimination to phlebotomist who refuses.
  • Everyone must follow the order of draw;
  • Listen to the patient when you ask which arm is best. Not necessarily how/where to stick;
  • Only Coban is allowed to be applied after the draw;
  • The person drawing blood has to listen and respect what the patient is telling them;
  • Only use a hard surface to engage safety on needle;
  • Do no harm;
  • Do enjoy what you do, it shows;
  • Always wear gloves when in contact with a patient.

Turning the tables, those who participated in the survey proposed 31 laws that apply to patients.  Sixteen percent of those suggested were equivalent to "Do not move when the needle is in your arm." Other proposed laws include:

  • Do not cough in my face;
  • Ask questions to understand the process;
  • Patients must report their contagious diseases;
  • The phlebotomist chooses what equipment to use;
  • Only patients with lab orders could have blood drawn;
  • Patients must not be abusive or threatening;
  • Take a shower and wear clean clothing;
  • Be cooperative and helpful;
  • ID must be provided prior to collection;
  • Listen to my questions & directions;
  • No fist pumping;
  • Realize that what occurs with non-experienced people taking blood is not necessarily going to occur with trained and experienced phlebotomists;
  • Respect your patients; treat them as you would expect to be treated;
  • Always ask to see your labeled specimens before the phlebotomist leaves;
  • Show appreciation;
  • Patients have the right to choose who they want to draw their blood;
  • Do not yell;
  • Take notice of what site works well when having blood drawn;
  • Don't ask the phlebotomist what the test is for;
  • Remember it's the doctor who orders your labs;
  • Respect your phlebotomist, treat them as you would expect to be treated.

This month we're asking visitors to our web site and Phlebotomy Today-STAT! readers what process is in place where they work to summon outpatients from the waiting room and how the confirm patient identification once they're in the drawing chair.

Take the survey.

What Should We Do?: A little too friendly

Lady listeningQuestion: I work with someone who assumes patients are okay with being called 'sweetie, honey, or 'darlin.' The person frequently asks patients about family, friends, and their personal lives. The person also shares their own personal information, which I feel is very unprofessional. The person has a loud voice that carries, and other phlebotomists have stated they don't want to overhear such conversations, but our manager won't address it or even investigate. We all have to work together in close proximity, so what can I do to curtail this person's overly personal patient interactions? The person is other-wise a great phlebotomist. What should we do?

Our response: We agree the coworker is going too far. Calling patients pet names is not professional and assuming every patient is comfortable with them is presumptuous. The probing personal questions and sharing of personal information goes beyond what's necessary to make the patients' experiences positive. 

To be fair, the person is likely of the opinion that by adding such personal touches, he/she is putting the patient at ease. He/she likely considers the personal flair to be a trademark of sorts that reflect good customer service. His/her intent is no doubt well-meaning, but misguided.  The manager needs to step out of the office and assess the appropriateness of the banter first-hand. By not following up with your complaint, the manager is choosing not to be involved. That's never a good idea. Not only does it fail to identify problems, it sends a signal to you that your concerns have no merit. If everyone on staff feels the same way, morale will tank, the team will lose cohesiveness, and the quality samples and patient experiences they deliver will rapidly degrade.

Of greater concern is the potential for HIPAA violations. When personal information is exchanged in an environment where others can overhear, patient confidentiality is lost. The manager may consider the pet names and too-cozy dialog as trivial infighting, but he/she has an obligation to monitor the exchange of confidential patient information and curtail its transmission. Failure to do so carries substantial fines and legal liability. So, while the manager may not want to intervene, he/she has a statutory obligation.

You, and other coworkers who feel the same, should approach your manager with specific statements you feel should not be made and overheard. For whatever reason, your manager may not turn the same deaf ear to your coworkers as he/she does to you. When the same concerns are expressed by several employees, the responsible manager takes action. It's appropriate for the manager, at the very least, to tell the boisterous coworker to soften his/her voice and tone down the pet names. But an audit of the nature of patient interactions is in order, and he/she can't conduct an audit without having a momentary presence in the area on multiple occasions spanning several days. The audit should be conducted with and without the employee in question on duty.

Panelists for this month's column include:

EmpoweredPair_250wGot a challenging phlebotomy situation or work-related question? Email us your submission at WSWD@phlebotomy.com and you just might see it as a future case study. (Names and identifiers will be removed to assure anonymity.)