From the draw to the laboratory - how to add value at every stage of blood collection process
The blood collection process is an integral part of medical diagnostics and research. From the draw to analysis in the laboratory, each step in the process has the potential to influence the accuracy of the results and add value to the overall patient experience. We will take a closer look at some typical steps in the blood collection process and discuss how they can give a benefit from a value-based procurement perspective – ultimately contributing to long-term cost savings rather than short-term gains.
1. Physician's Instruction and order
One of the first steps in a typical blood collection process is the issuance and receipt of the physician’s order. Digitizing and automating the process from the very first step allows continuous tracking of the time taken to complete each stage, identifies dwell times and provides valuable insight into the overall TAT (turn-around-time). Tracking also provides real-time insight into the associated workloads of the people and departments involved. This data can be used to optimize workflows and identify potential savings.
Digitized and automated workflow
- Continuous tracking and workload insights
- Identification of savings
2. Ensure all the required products are available
Having a portfolio of blood collection products for different patients is essential for a flawless blood collection process – for both the patient and the user. Convenient, easy-to-open packaging and clear labelling can help improve the selection of blood collection products.
Optimized packaging and product design helps to reduce waste volume and associated disposal costs. Providing pre-assembled devices decreases the risk of complications during assembly and frees up time for other tasks. Additionally, not having to touch the individual parts of the device before use facilitates hygienic working and reduces any potential contamination.
Providing safety devices with work-enhancing features can contribute improve the nurse’s productivity, increase confidence and reduce the likelihood of needlestick injuries (NSI) and subsequent costs.
- Portfolio of products; selection of most suitable product dependent on the patient leading to smoother blood collection process for patient and user
- Optimized packaging reduce disposal costs
- Pre-assembled devices; hygienic, time-saving
- Safety devices; reduced NSI and subsequent costs
3. Patient identification and discussion
Approaching and communicating with the patient in a professional and empathetic way is a key factor in making the patient feel comfortable. Some patients may have had bad experiences with previous blood collection procedures, making them particularly nervous and anxious.
Staff who are confident in handling the products they use will pass on that confidence and safety to their patients. Proper training and the use of reliable, high-quality products make it much easier for healthcare professionals to focus on the patient and their needs, rather than worrying about the correct procedure and a product that repeatedly causes problems.
Trained staff and use of reliable products
- Focus on patient and their needs
4. Product and puncture site selection based on the patient
One product fits all? Unfortunately not. An important step in successful blood collection is the selection of an appropriate puncture site. Properly trained staff know how to do this. But do they have the most suitable product? Imagine having a patient with a challenging vein condition, but only one specific product is available.
This makes it difficult and sometimes impossible, for staff to perform a flawless blood collection, leaving the patient dissatisfied or even upset – not to mention the stress for the staff dealing with the situation and the resulting fear of facing the same problem again.
In addition, using an unsuitable product can necessitate a redraw if sample quality is affected and rejected by the laboratory (e.g. due to hemolysis). Having a portfolio of products for different vein conditions is therefore necessary to ensure the most comfortable and efficient blood collection for both patient and user.
Right products for every patient type
- Smooth blood draw
- Satisfied patient and relaxed user
- Improved sample quality and less rejected samples
In an ideal world, the actual venipuncture would be quick and straightforward. However, even the most experienced staff can struggle with challenging veins, nervous patients, unreliable or unsuitable products. The use of ancillary equipment such as the VeinViewer® near-infrared vein visualization device can support an efficient, professional procedure. It may also distract the patient and pique their curiosity if explained how and why it is used. Besides – it is just cool.
Use of ancillary equipment (VeinViewer® etc.)
- Eases process and increases first time stick success rate
- Adds a more professional, forward-looking mindset for your facility
Once the blood sample has been taken, the blood collection device must be immediately disposed of in an appropriate sharps container. The safety mechanism must be activated to help protect both the user and the patient from needlestick injuries. Take a closer look at the mechanism before deciding on a product.
- Is it simple, ergonomic and intuitive to use?
- Is the activation mechanism meant to be activated inside or outside the vein?
- Is there a visual or audible confirmation of successful activation?
A reliable mechanism is essential to reduce the risk of needlestick injuries and associated costs. The above aspects affect not only the user, but also the patient. For a patient, it also makes a difference if the product feels stable and secure and does not cause undue discomfort. In contrast, the patient may feel uncomfortable or even unsafe if the product looks unstable or the safety mechanism is difficult to activate.
Patients with needle phobia will also be reassured if the needle is hidden and not visible after use.
Reliable safety mechanism
- Reduces risk of NSI and associated costs
- Patient feels safe
7. Further sample processing and transport
Standard blood collection tubes must be properly labelled before the next steps. Again, a digitized process helps to speed up the workflow. The use of pre-barcoded tubes minimizes the likelihood of sample mix-ups and allows for automated processing and accurate time tracking with an appropriate software solution.
Proper and timely transport and adequate storage of blood samples is essential to ensure high quality samples for laboratory processing. Appropriate storage racks and transport boxes help to ensure sample integrity.
Pre-barcoded tubes, storage and transport system
- Reduced likelihood of sample misidentification
- Automated processing and time tracking with an appropriate software
- Ensure sample quality
8. Processing in the laboratory
Once the blood sample arrives at the laboratory, it needs to be processed and analyzed. If the previous steps are carried out carefully, the laboratory will also benefit by having to reject fewer samples. If the hemolysis rate is lower, there will be no need for redraws and the analysis results will be reliable, allowing the physician to make a timely diagnosis.
The result is time savings (both materials and staff resources), increased throughput and ultimately positive patient outcome and satisfaction.
Previous steps done right
- Fewer rejected samples and redraws needed
- Time savings (material and staff)
- Reliable results
- Increased throughput
- Positive patient outcome and satisfaction
Safety and value, it’s in our blood
Protecting patients, clinicians and accuracy are topics to be covered in more detail here in the coming months. To ensure you don’t miss out, subscribe to the series here.
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