July 26, 2022

Phlebotomy Tips: Drawing Blood from Difficult Patients

Key Takeaways

  • Learning how to manage difficult patients is an important part of being a world-class phlebotomist. It’s also a learned skill that you need to master to deliver an exceptional patient experience with each draw. 
  • Difficult personality types require us to rise above the distractions and displeasures of the situation. 
  • The common denominator with every patient type is: You.
  • How you react to difficult patients needs to be done calmly, systematically, and with anticipation. Handling these patients professionally means you anticipate it in advance.

Are you a phlebotomist, or interested in learning more about phlebotomy? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Getlabs Phlebotomy Tips is a series focused on sharing knowledge, advice, and best practices for phlebotomists and mobile phlebotomists.

One benefit of being a phlebotomist is the opportunity to interact with a diverse range of patients daily. It can make everyday exciting and presents a unique challenge and opportunity with each blood draw. Especially when drawing blood from difficult patients.

Learning how to manage difficult patients is an important part of being a world-class phlebotomist. It’s also a learned skill that you need to master to deliver an exceptional patient experience with each draw. So, what’s the trick to drawing blood from difficult patients?

We’ll review a few examples of difficult patients you’ve likely encountered, as well as provide guidance on how to draw blood while still delivering the best patient experience possible.

Common Difficult Patient Types

Every patient is unique. Isn’t that the beauty of healthcare; the chance to meet people from all walks of life? Unfortunately, not all patient encounters will be pleasant and difficult personality types can be challenging.

Let’s see if you’ve encountered any of these common difficult patients.

The Inquisitive Patient

As phlebotomists, answering questions during a blood draw is a routine part of the job. Curiosity is natural, but sometimes the volume of questions can be so excessive it becomes a distraction.

For example: Have you done this before, what are you testing for, do you like your job, is blood really blue in the veins, and so on. Addressing every question takes time and attention away from the important task at hand. How can you possibly handle so many questions while maintaining focus, professionalism, and providing the best patient experience possible?

The Demanding Patient

Does this sound familiar? “You have to use a butterfly, you have to stick me here, you have to close the door, can I have a glass of water, I need a nurse.” If so, then it sounds like you’ve encountered the demanding patient.

Demanding patients can make you feel like you’re no longer in control of the situation. As phlebotomists, we cannot allow the patient to dictate our work. Navigating this type of patient requires patience, confidence, and above all else, professionalism.

The Rabid Patient

It’s not uncommon for patients to dislike blood work, however, rabid patients take simple dislike to the extreme. Rabid patients can border on hostile and make working conditions unfriendly and tense.

The Stubborn Patient

We love when patients listen carefully and follow directions; it makes the blood draw easier. What we don’t love are the stubborn patients  who refuse our orders and make the situation more difficult than it needs to be.

These are just a few examples of difficult patients that you’ve likely encountered at some point in your healthcare career. All these personalities and more require us to look beyond personality traits and see what’s behind each of the faces we encounter: a patient who needs their blood drawn correctly and courteously.

Delivering a world-class patient experience

These difficult personality types require us to rise above the distractions and unpleasantness of the situation. That’s how you deliver a world-class patient experience - rising above demanding, curious, even cranky patients and focusing on being their most pleasant encounter of the day.

It’s hard, but it’s necessary.

It comes natural for those who perform on a world-class level. Consider each patient an opportunity to learn and step up another rung on the ladder towards performing at an even greater level.

It helps to remember that patients are not problems, they’re opportunities.

What do all these patient types have in common? You.

How you react to difficult patients needs to be done calmly, systematically, and with anticipation. Handling them professionally means you anticipated it in advance. You thought out your reaction and implemented a strategy. You weren’t caught off guard or surprised, you kept your calm and didn’t show shock, fear, anger, or any other emotional extreme.

You went about it as if it happens every day - professionals react by not reacting.

Professionals focus on the objective of getting the sample and not getting flustered.

As always, thanks for stopping by! We look forward to sharing more phlebotomy tips and best practices with you in the future.

Getlabs is growing!

If you’re considering a career as a phlebotomist or curious to learn more, consider working for a mobile phlebotomy service like Getlabs. We hire talented, passionate people from diverse backgrounds, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it makes our company stronger as a whole.

If you share our values and our enthusiasm for helping our patients have the best experience, we have a home for you at Getlabs.

Check out our careers page and find out if we’re hiring in your area!

Book an Appointment

Getlabs delivers healthcare to you. Our specialists come to you to collect your labs and deliver them to Labcorp and Quest for testing. We’re available same-day, nationwide.

related articles
August 24, 2022
Phlebotomy Tips: Why You Shouldn’t Pump Your Fist Before a Blood Draw
read more
July 26, 2022
Phlebotomy Tips: Drawing Blood from Difficult Patients
read more
July 22, 2022
Phlebotomists, Should You Follow Order of Draw?
read more
July 18, 2022
Phlebotomy Tips: How to Avoid Hemolyzing Your Samples
read more
July 18, 2022
What Is a Mobile Phlebotomist - What Do They Do?
read more
July 18, 2022
Phlebotomy Tips: How to Properly Mix a Blood Sample to Prevent Clotting
read more
July 18, 2022
How Mobile Phlebotomy is Improving Patient Outcomes
read more
July 18, 2022
What is a Phlebotomist?
read more