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If you are considering becoming a medical assistant, you might be curious as to whether medical assistants are permitted or required to draw a patient’s blood. This is a great question that this page thoroughly answers.
Before we dive into the answer, if you are interested in becoming a medical assistant, you should consider enrolling in Florida Career College's Medical Assistant Program. You can graduate from the program in as little as 10 Months with a Medical Assistant Diploma!
Now, let's answer the question of whether Medical Assistants are permitted or required to draw blood.
Can a Medical Assistants Draw Blood?
The ability of a medical assistant to draw blood from a patient depends on State law. That said, Medical Assistants are generally permitted to draw blood if they are working under the direct supervision of a physician. Whether you’re required to draw blood as a medical assistant depends on the job duties assigned to you by your employer.
That said, the duties of a medical assistant vary from one state to another and vary even from one physician’s office to another. Some states have more restrictions on the duties of a medical assistant. Generally, medical assistants work under a physician’s supervision and may perform various administrative or clinical tasks to support a patient’s care. One of the tasks medical assistants are trained to perform is called venipuncture or drawing blood.
Does FCC’s Medical Assistant Program Teach Students How to Draw Blood?
Florida Career College’s Medical Assistant Technician program includes training on drawing patient blood and provides opportunities for students to practice this skill during hands-on labs.
One of the courses included in the Medical Assistant Technician Program is MT1030, Phlebotomy, and Hematology for Medical Assistants. During this course, students will learn the proper technique and procedures for venipuncture, urine analysis, and hematology, including specimen collecting, specimen processing, data collection, and safety methods.
Students at Florida Career College will learn how to safely prepare a patient for a blood draw, place a tourniquet, insert the needle, and process the samples for testing. With a doctor or supervisor’s authorization, they would be able to perform this task.
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What is the difference between Phlebotomy and Venipuncture?
Phlebotomy and venipuncture both involve puncturing a vein with a medical needle and are often used interchangeably for drawing blood, but there is a slight difference.
Phlebotomy refers to the practice of collecting blood for testing only, while venipuncture may include collecting a blood sample, collecting a blood donation, or setting up an IV to give medications directly into the vein. Setting up and managing an IV is usually reserved for licensed medical professionals, while a certified phlebotomist usually manages blood donations.
The training offered at Florida Career College is for phlebotomy. Medical Assistants can collect samples but are not certified to give medications through an IV or collect a blood donation. Students are not certified phlebotomists at the end of the program, but it is possible to become certified down the road with further training.
What Does the Process of Drawing Blood Look Like?
Drawing blood requires good training and plenty of practice to become comfortable. For someone who is experienced, drawing blood may take just minutes and can provide answers that will change a patient’s treatment. As a medical assistant collecting a blood sample, you would follow these steps:
Step #1. Review the doctor’s orders. It’s important before you begin to review the lab order. This document should contain all the patient’s identifying information and the exact tests they need as well as any restrictions to be aware of.
Step #2. Review the order with the patient. Some tests require a patient to fast for a certain amount of time, and some patients may be allergic to the equipment typically used to draw blood. Take time to check in with your patient, ensure they are prepared for their blood draw, and understand the process. Make sure they know the test that will be performed and receive their consent before beginning.
Step #3. Prepare your equipment. You have a variety of tools available to you to perform a successful blood draw, and each patient is unique. You will need gloves, rubbing alcohol, sample collection tubes, needles, a tourniquet, and a bandage.
Before you begin, identify the vein and what needle you might use. If your patient has an allergy to latex gloves or bandage adhesive, prepare an alternative. You should also review the order one more time to lay out all necessary equipment within arms-reach while you draw the blood. Determine now how many tubes you need to have ready. You can label each ahead of time with the patient’s information.
Step #4. Set up a safe draw. Position your patient so that their arm does not have a chance of slipping during the blood draw. It’s also not uncommon for patients to have a fear of having blood drawn. If someone has a history of fainting, lay them down before you begin the draw.
Step #5. Wash up. Always wash your hands before you begin a venipuncture procedure. You should also clean the site with an alcohol wipe before inserting the needle.
Step #6. Place the tourniquet. A latex (or latex-free) tourniquet helps prepare the vein for the blood draw and makes veins easier to see. The tourniquet should not be left on for more than a minute.
Step #7. Insert the needle into the vein. When you insert the needle at a 30-degree angle, the blood will begin to flow. You can continue to switch out the collection tubes as needed. Each has a minimum fill line.
Step #8. Complete the collection. Release the tourniquet, remove the needle and apply light pressure to the site with gauze. Cover it with a bandage until the bleeding stops. Dispose of all materials used in a safe manner.
Step #9. Inform the patient. Before they leave, ask the patient to verify the correct identification information on the blood sample’s label and give the patient clear directions for their next steps. It is always helpful to know when you will get results and who will follow up. They should also know what to do if they have any lingering discomfort at the puncture site.
Step #10. Process the sample. Review that each sample is labeled and legible and then stored properly. It may be important to keep certain samples at a specific temperature or to process them within a certain amount of time.
Why Is Blood Drawn From Patients?
Many people get nervous about having their blood drawn, but it is an incredibly helpful tool for medical professionals. Analyzing blood can help diagnose illnesses, determine risk factors and determine the effectiveness of current medications. A blood test can help detect:
- Cholesterol levels
- Blood glucose levels
- Heart disease
- Liver and kidney function
- Thyroid disease
- Nutritional deficiencies
Testing blood is a simple way to discover what could be very big problems down the road. This quick process allows a physician to adjust or prescribe new medications or suggest lifestyle changes that can help extend a person’s life and comfort. Even when patients have a fear of needles—the answers provided by this test are worth the pain!
What Can Medical Assistants Do?
Medical assistants provide support to doctors and nurses in a variety of ways. In the front office, medical assistants may:
- Answer phones and manage office correspondence
- Schedule appointments
- Send referrals to specialists
- File insurance claims
- Update patient paperwork and contact information
- Keep equipment stocked
- Assist with billing
In the exam room, medical assistants may help by:
- Recording vitals. Vitals provides an important benchmark for doctors and may give clues to underlying issues. It’s important for vitals to be recorded at the beginning of each visit so this information is kept up to date.
- Performing diagnostic tests. Diagnostic tests include EKG or electrocardiogram.
- Prepare patients for the exam. Medical Assistants are often the ones to call a patient into the exam room, go through their medical history to update records, and record vitals. This routine work allows doctors to spend more time with their patients and have good information as soon as they walk into an exam room.
- Sterilizing equipment. Medical assistants prepare the exam room by sterilizing it after each patient. This also provides an opportunity to ensure the room is fully stocked with needed equipment.
- Remove stitches. Medical assistants are trained to help clean up and address wounds. They can remove stitches and change the dressing on wounds.
- Administering injections. Injections help to administer medication quickly to a patient that may prevent viruses or diseases.
- Collect lab samples (urine or blood). These lab tests can shed a lot of light on what is going on within a person’s body. Medical assistants may be the ones collecting the samples or may just assist with ensuring the samples are labeled correctly and sent to the correct lab.
- Assist the physician with the exam as needed. Any time doctors have their hands full; it’s helpful to have a medical assistant nearby to pass equipment and help dispose of hazardous materials. Having an extra set of hands available helps keep everyone safer.
The exact role of a medical assistant may differ from one office to another. Some larger offices hire separate medical assistants to work the front office and back office, giving the medical assistants in those offices a chance to specialize in more administrative versus clinical tasks. Other offices may require a medical assistant to do both—creating a comfortable experience for patients who begin to recognize the staff they work with often.
Restrictions placed on what a medical assistant can and cannot do also vary by state. Some states require specific certifications for specific tasks. Every medical assistant acts under the direction of a physician, registered nurse, or certified medical assistant. This is also why quality training is so important. A good training program will tell you what is permitted in your state and prepare you for a job as soon as you graduate.
Do You Need to Train to Become a Medical Assistant?
Training to become a medical assistant will give you the best chance of finding employment and confidently handling any task assigned to you.
There is no formal educational requirement to become a medical assistant. Some positions require a high school diploma, while others do not. However, many states do require either experience under the supervision of a doctor or completion of a training program to be eligible for employment as a medical assistant. Most doctors prefer to hire someone who has already undergone training to become an asset to their team from day one rather than spending valuable time learning on the job. You should seek training through an accredited program to be competitive for an entry-level position.
A good training program will give you a better understanding of the human body, medical terminology, diseases, treatments, and how a medical office runs. It will also help you develop skills to record patient vitals, assist with exams, prepare exam rooms, administer vaccines, and draw blood. Practicing these tasks through hands-on labs will give you confidence when it comes time to find a job.
What Does a Medical Assistant Program Teach Students?
A medical assistant training program like the Medical Assistant Program at Florida Career College prepares students with all the skills and knowledge they need for an entry-level medical assistant position.
Through lectures and hands-on experiences, we will teach you how to assist physicians with exams, perform diagnostic tests, administer vaccines, record vitals, and draw blood. The medical assistant technician program at FCC also covers medical ethics and practice doing administrative tasks like scheduling appointments, managing medical records, and telephone etiquette.
Courses in the program include:
- Introduction to Allied Health for Medical Assistants
- Electrocardiography and Diagnostic Imaging for Medical Assistants
- Phlebotomy and Hematology for Medical Assistants
- Medical Front Office Procedures in Medical Offices
- Medical Back Office Procedures
- Pharmacology and Drug Administration for Medical Assistants
- Clinical Back Office Procedures
The program ends with an externship in the community. This gives students the opportunity to put their skills into practice with real patients and build relationships they can use in the future. Many students are hired by their externship site.
Consider Enrolling in FCC’s Medical Assistant Program
If you're interested in becoming a Medical Assistant, you should consider enrolling in FCC's Medical Assistant Program. The program is short-term, allowing you to earn a Medical Assistant Diploma in as little as 10 Months! Enroll today and begin a new and rewarding career in the healthcare field in less than a year!