Hidden heroes in Colorectal Cancer Screening (CRC)- more
than just a blood draw
Phlebotomy is a crucial part of medicine, with phlebotomists playing a key role in collecting blood for diagnostic testing. Did you know Phlebotomy has a long history dating back to ancient civilizations like Egypt, Greece, and Rome, where bloodletting was practiced as a method of restoring health?
Fun fact: In ancient times, Physicians used leeches or sharp instruments for bloodletting in the belief that it would restore patient’s health.1
Phlebotomists or health care professionals trained to draw blood have a significant impact on patient experience, acting as a liaison between the medical provider and the patient. February celebrates Phlebotomist Recognition Week and is designated National Cancer Prevention Month.2,3 When blood-based CRC screening is the preferred method, phlebotomists are vital to ensuring the preventative screening test is complete.
Phlebotomists: Right Place, Right Time
Phlebotomists are often the first point of contact for patients during the screening blood-draw
process once an order is placed for a laboratory test, and a patient is instructed to go to the lab
for test completion. Patients may present to a clinical laboratory either within the provider’s office, or at multiple patient service centers, such as Quest or LabCorp, or utilize mobile phlebotomy services.
Multiple access points to phlebotomists help improve patient access, each with its own unique benefit. Arguably, the most convenient option is in-office phlebotomy services which provide direct patient access to the lab, resulting in an increased likelihood of same-day blood draws to increase compliance. External clinical laboratories, such as Quest and LabCorp typically require the patient to schedule an appointment, but with multiple locations, this method can be conducive for some patients. Lastly, mobile phlebotomy is a unique service offering allowing the medical service to meet the patient at their convenience. While this method does require the patient or patient representative to schedule the appointment, this personalized approach can significantly improve access for some patients.
Phlebotomists and the successful screening test
Phlebotomists play a key role in patient blood draw compliance. They are responsible for collecting blood samples and preparing them for analysis. These samples are then sent to a lab for testing, where they are screened for markers that may indicate the presence of cancer.
Phlebotomists are proficiently trained in evaluating patients and explaining procedures, verifying patients’ identity, drawing blood, point of care testing, and preparing blood or other specimens for testing. As stewards of patients, Phlebotomists ensure the patient is comfortable and relaxed prior to the blood draw. They follow strict protocols to ensure that the blood sample is collected in a safe and sterile manner, preserving the integrity of the sample for accurate test results. Phlebotomists’ dedication and proficiency is what makes them true specialists, experts, and masters at their craft.
Ushering the future of CRC Screening
When the blood draw goes smoothly, the patient can have a positive experience, increasing the chance patients will be adherent with future lab orders. Phlebotomists are an essential part of the healthcare team. They play a critical role in the early detection and blood-based screening of colorectal cancer. Their expertise in collecting and preparing samples, as well as their ability to educate patients, can make a significant impact on the health of the community.
With blood-based CRC screening now available, it is even more vital that phlebotomists are recognized as valuable team members. They are trained to understand anatomy, and the risks arising from blood exposure, and absence of infection prevention and control measures3.
Phlebotomists are at the forefront of the screening frontier for blood based colorectal cancer screening. During Phlebotomist Recognition Week, I would like to express my gratitude to all the phlebotomists for their tireless work and dedication to patients.