Pathology phlebotomy service

Patients will often be required to provide a sample of blood to assist with diagnosis or to monitor treatment, and whether you are a GP patient or you are attending the hospital, you may be seen by a phlebotomist from the pathology phlebotomy service.

At some GP practices you will be given an appointment to see the phlebotomist. At some GP practices in the Stockton area you can drop-in to one of our phlebotomy clinics and your blood samples will be collected but you must bring your blood request form with you so we know what samples to collect.

Identification and consent for the procedure

You will be asked for your name and date of birth to confirm your identity or if you are in hospital and too poorly to provide this information, the phlebotomist will check your identity from your wrist band. Please be advised that patients who attend a phlebotomy clinic and who are unable to communicate in English, that they must show the phlebotomist their ARC identification badge.

Consent for the procedure is implied by your attendance at a phlebotomy clinic or by forms completed when you were admitted to the hospital. If you do not want the phlebotomist to collect your bloods, please politely decline. Also, in some circumstances the phlebotomist will decline to collect your samples, for example if you are unable or fail to co-operate.

The venepuncture procedure

Different tests require different bottles to be used for the procedure and several bottles may be required. These are normally collected from a single needle prick and the phlebotomist will work at the speed required to ensure that each bottle is correctly filled. The blood is normally collected from a vein in the arm but occasionally you may be bled from the back of the hand or you may have a simple finger-prick test. With all these procedures there is a risk that you may experience some discomfort and there is also the possibility of bruising. Please advise the phlebotomist if you have previously experienced difficulty in providing a blood sample or if you have particular anxieties about the procedure.

What happens next?

The sample(s) are mixed, labelled with your identification details and then despatched to the laboratory for testing, together with the request form with clinical and test request details.

The result of analysis is often available on the same day the sample is collected and this is forwarded to the requesting doctor by electronic communication. Some tests are referred to specialist laboratories and will take longer to report.

If you are a GP patient, please check with the surgery when you will receive the result. The laboratory is unable to give results directly to patients.

Occasionally the result is unexpected and the laboratory and requesting doctors (including GPs) have procedures for alerting the patient, if required, for further medical attention.