Tuesday, June 01, 2004

WaPo seems to think we should be worried about unlicensed phlebotomists. While I'm sure that, all else equal, more training makes for better and safer blood drawing technique, I would take the current average phlebotomist over the alternative, a licensed and trained nurse who draws blood only occasionally and received a smattering of training in her distant nursing school days. My mother's a nurse and she routinely has to call phlebotomists in to do difficult sticks that young nurses cannot do (that's when the other nurses don't call her instead; with twenty years of experience, she has the techniques down pat and while she complains about how often that happens I think she secretly likes being the resident expert).

My needle horror story (not as gory as Ms. Butler's): when I went in to get my wisdom teeth out, they put in an IV to shoot me full of liquid Demerol and Valium. While the drugs were on drip, they stuck the nitrous mask on and waited. After a few minutes, I was high as a kite but not sleepy in the least. They wait more and keep asking if I was getting sleepy, but I said no. Finally, they lifted the sheet from my arm and realized that the silly nurse (not an experienced RN or trained phlebotomist, I assume) has infiltrated my IV and all the yummy druggy goodness is just hanging out subcutaneously and not anywhere near my bloodstream. They freaked out, which I thought was funny since the gas is still flowing, and then had to restick me and shoot another dose of Demerol and Valium into my vein. I passed out and woke up on my grandmother's couch with my mother screeching about how subcutaneous liquid Demerol eats flesh or something and I need to keep my arm elevated so I have tissue left in my elbow. Moral of the story: painkillers good, IV insertion training better.
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