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Phlebotomy & Coronavirus- Safety in blood sample testing of patients suspected with infection

Health Canada has recently said that at least one million Canadian blood samples would be collected and tested over the next two years to track the virus in both the general population and in groups that are at higher risk of being infected, such as health-care workers and the elderly. “Serological testing will contribute to a better understanding of whether people who have been infected by COVID-19 are immune to the virus,” read the statement.

Blood tests are widely used method globally to determine who is infected and who isn’t. In the present scenario of corona pandemic, the need for health care workers is growing up each day as the number of patients requiring healthcare have increased many folds. Scientists are of opinion that phlebotomy serological tests, or blood tests, can identify whether a person has been exposed to a pathogen, like the new coronavirus, by looking at their immune response. They can identify asymptomatic cases or people with mild infections but were not diagnosed. Blood tests can be the gold standard for understanding the spread of this infection and help us better understand Canada’s epidemic.

In the wake of Corona virus pandemic demands for healthcare workers have increased many folds so as the demands for the phlebotomists. With the every day rising needs and requirements in the healthcare fields, the jobs of phlebotomists would always be in demand with a promising bright future. Phlebotomist must exercise due precautions while collecting blood samples from the patients suspected of being infected.

Safely measures while performing phlebotomy/venipuncture on patients suspected to be infected:

5 important STEPS as follows:

Step 1: Before entering patient room, assemble all equipment

A. Assemble equipment for collecting blood- which include Blood sampling systems (Needle and syringe system, vacuum extraction system or winged butterfly system), Tourniquet (single use), Skin antiseptic solution: 70% isopropyl alcohol, Gauze pads, Adhesive bandage, Tray for assembling blood collection tools and Rack for holding blood tubes.

B. Assemble equipment for preventing infections- For hand hygiene use- Alcohol-based handrub OR Clean running water, soap, and disposable (paper) towel.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)-Include Several pairs of disposable gloves, preferably disposable shoes, Long-sleeved, cuffed gowns or a plastic apron or disposable coverall suit, Face protection: Face mask + [face shield OR goggles].

C: Patient Documentation-Label blood collection tubes with date of collection, patient name and required details. For multiple patients sampling, create a list containing patient name, identifier number, sex, DOB and other required clinical information.

D: Assemble materials for packaging of samples- Plastic leak-proof packaging container, disposable (paper) towels and dry ice or cold box, if sample requires refrigeration.

Waste management- include -Leak-proof and puncture resistant sharps container or leak-proof infectious waste bags.

Step 2: Put on all personal protective equipment (PPE)


A: Perform hand hygiene. Duration- 40-60 sec if handwashing with soap and water; 20-30 sec if handrubbing with an alcohol-based solution. Some conditions may require aseptic hand wash for at least two minutes.