Phlebotomy update: How order of draw influences laboratory results


Intravenous literature: Lima-Oliveira, G., Lippi, G., Salvagno, G.L., Montagnana, M., Picheth, G. and Guidi, G.C. (2013) Incorrect order of draw could be mitigate the patient safety: a phlebotomy management case report. Biochemia Medica. 23(2), p.218-23.


Procedures involving phlebotomy are critical for obtaining diagnostic blood specimens and represent a well known and recognized problem, probably among the most important issues in laboratory medicine. The aim of this report is to show spurious hyperkalemia and hypocalcemia due to inadequate phlebotomy procedure. The diagnostic blood specimens were collected from a male outpatient 45 years old, with no clinical complaints. The tubes drawing order were as follows: i) clot activator and gel separator (serum vacuum tube), ii) K,EDTA, iii) a needleless blood gas dedicated-syringe with 80 I.U. lithium heparin, directly connected to the vacuum tube holder system. The laboratory testing results from serum vacuum tube and dedicated syringe were 4.8 and 8.5 mmol/L for potassium, 2.36 and 1.48 mmol/L for total calcium, respectively. Moreover 0.15 mmol/L of free calcium was observed in dedicated syringe. A new blood collection was performed without K3EDTA tube. Different results were found for potassium (4.7 and 4.5 mmol/L) and total calcium (2.37 and 2.38 mmol/L) from serum vacuum tube and dedicated syringe, respectively. Also free calcium showed different concentration (1.21 mmol/L) in this new sample when compared with the first blood specimen. Based on this case we do not encourage the laboratory managers training the phlebotomists to insert the dedicated syringes in needle-holder system at the end of all vacuum tubes. To avoid double vein puncture the dedicated syringe for free calcium determination should be inserted immediately after serum tubes before EDTA vacuum tubes.

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