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What are the Disadvantages of Being a Phlebotomist?

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A phlebotomist or phlebotomist technician plays a big role in the inner workings of a clinical setting. Since he is responsible for drawing blood samples, storing them, transporting them and disposing of hazardous waste, the risk levels are high in this important medical field.

While the responsibilities include helping doctors diagnose blood-related disorders, helping patients feel comfortable while having their blood drawn and possibly even supervising newly trained phlebotomists, the disadvantages are serious and should be taken into consideration when considering entering this field.

Exposure to Hazardous Waste

One big downside to being a phlebotomist is the constant exposure to harmful materials. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, specimens, solutions and reagents used in the laboratory sometimes produce fumes. In addition to this, while drawing blood or disposing of used needles, a phlebotomist who accidentally nicks herself stands a risk of contracting illnesses such as HIV or syphilis. Accidental spills or cluttered working conditions, if allowed, can also lead to injuries.

Low Margin for Error

In the phlebotomy profession, there is a very small margin for error. Accidentally mixing up collected samples can lead to major consequences. Misplacing or incorrectly labeling one vial is similar to mixing up the patient charts for a terminally ill patient and a perfectly healthy one. Knowing and using good sterilization technique is important because one slip-up can affect multiple patients and staff members. If phlebotomist's job responsibilities include transporting lab samples, a good driving record is necessary since blood work can be compromised if he is involved in a serious car accident while en route to the lab.

Long Hours Standing

Spending all day drawing blood, submitting or transporting blood samples to the laboratory or performing lab work and discussing results with doctors and other medical staff can result in hours of standing each day; this can aggravate existing back pain or other joint injuries.

Bedside Manner

A phlebotomist who is not good at communicating with others will have a hard time making patients feel comfortable. Patients coming to a clinic or hospital usually do not have blood drawn unless it is necessary, so if a phlebotomist walks in with a bad attitude, it heightens the patient’s anxiety and can draw out the process (especially if the patient requests a different phlebotomist due to her discomfort) or result in negative job performance appraisal.

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About the Author

Sommer began writing professionally after her first article on the Million Man March was published in 1995, during her senior year in high school. Her work has been published in the "Chattanooga Times Free Press", "USA Today," the "Houston Chronicle," eHow, and AnswerBag.