Phlebotomist and Arterial Blood

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Posted on 15th February 2011 by admin in Uncategorized

phlebotomist techArterial blood is the best specimen for many analyses because it composition is fairly consistent, unlike venous blood that varies due to the metabolic needs of the body.  Unfortunatley, arterial blood collection is a potentially more painful collection method to the patient compared to venipunture.  Arterial blood collection is also more technically difficult for the healthcare worker to obtain.  This is why arterial specimens are not routinely used for blood tests.  The main reason why an arterial puncture would be considered by a phlebotomist technician is to be able to evaluate arterial blood gases (ABGs).

Arterial blood gases are primarily obtained to diagnose and manage respiratory diseases.  The collection of arterial blood gases can provide information concerning a patient’s oxygenation, ventilation, and acid-base balance.  This type of collection can also benefit patients with other disorders, such as diabetics, who need to manage their electrolyte and acid-base balance.

Arterial blood collection requires great care to be accurate.  These types of specimens are very sensitive.  Preanalytical errors, inaccurate patient assessment and improper specimen collection and handling can cause inaccurate diagnostic results.  Because this type of blood specimen is so sensitive, it is only acquired when necessary.

There are several instruments that are used to process arterial blood gas specimens.  Most of these instruments directly measure pH, partial pressure of carbon dioxide, and partial pressure of oxygen and calculate bicarbonate, base excesses of deficiencies, and oxygen saturation.  There are also instruments that can measure the sodium, potassium, chloride, ionized calcium, glucose, and hemoglobin in the same specimen.

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