November 2, 2022
Did your patient faint during a blood draw? Don’t worry, as a phlebotomist, you are almost guaranteed to encounter a patient that faints at some point in your career. In fact, statistically speaking, nearly 2.5% of patients will pass out during or immediately after a blood draw.
The good news is that you can prepare for this scenario and ensure the patient is safe by limiting the potential for injury by taking the appropriate steps. In this article, we’ll review why patients faint, warning signs to look for, and what to do when the moment comes.
It’s hard to identify which patients will faint during a blood draw and which will not. It happens to healthy patients, young, old, and even those accustomed to blood draws. The most common reason for fainting, especially with children and young adults, is neurally mediated syncope.
Commonly referred to as vasovagal syncope or a vasovagal response, essentially what happens is the patient’s blood pressure suddenly drops and not enough oxygen can reach the brain. There’s not a single cause for this reaction; it could be anxiety, distress, or sometimes even the sight of blood is enough to trigger it.
The important thing to remember is to look for signs when a patient is about to faint. Noticing them can keep them safe from injury or harm while they recover consciousness.
Although it can be hard to tell what patient will faint when they walk through the door, there are warning signs that you can identify and use to prepare a safe environment for your patient to recover.
Signs a patient is about to faint include:
If you notice any of the above warning signs that your patient is about to faint, it’s important to immediately take precautions and prepare a safe environment to prevent injury or harm. After all, falling during a blood draw can cause serious injury, including concussions, broken bones, or worse, paralysis.
Include these steps in your blood draw process to ensure your patients are safe if they faint:
In addition to these tips, you can also help the patient by not mentioning the words “faint” or “pass out” prior to the blood draw. The power of suggestion is powerful - and you don’t want to make your words a reality. Instead, ask them if they’ve ever “had problems” with prior blood draws. Ask follow up questions depending on their answer and prepare accordingly.
Some authorities on needle phobia recommend asking patients, “How do you feel about needles?” If the answer suggests anything other than an acceptance or ambivalence, be on high alert for an impending loss of consciousness and take preventative measures.
Fainting can be unexpected, but knowing what to do beforehand is important to help prevent injury and ensure the patient is safe. Remember, success is merely preparation meeting opportunity, and, as a world-class phlebotomist, you should always be prepared for anything!
As always, thanks for stopping by! We look forward to sharing more phlebotomy tips and best practices with you in the future.
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!
This page is provided for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute the provision of medical advice or professional services. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, and those seeking personal medical advice regarding any of the tests and conditions referenced above are advised to consult with a licensed clinician. Always seek the advice of your qualified health provider regarding a medical condition and do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information on this page. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or go to the nearest urgent care center or hospital.
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