Survey of national guidelines, education and training on phlebotomy in 28 European countries

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Intravenous literature: Simundic, A.M., Cornes, M., Grankvist, K., Lippi, G., Nybo, M., Kovalevskaya, S., Sprongl, L., Sumarac, Z. and Church, S. (2013) Survey of national guidelines, education and training on phlebotomy in 28 European countries: an original report by the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EFLM) working group for the preanalytical phase (WG-PA). Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine. May 14th. [Epub ahead of print].

Abstract:

Background: European questionnaire survey was conducted by the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine Working Group for the Preanalytical Phase (EFLM WG-PA) to assess how phlebotomy is performed in EFLM countries, including differences in personnel, level of education and skills, and to investigate the presence and compliance of national phlebotomy guidelines on this matter.

Methods: A questionnaire was constructed containing questions elucidating different aspects of the organization behind the phlebotomy praxis on a national basis, including questions on the staff performing phlebotomy, the education of these staff members, and the existence of and adherence to national guidelines. All 39 EFLM member countries were invited to participate.

Results: In total 28/39 (72%) EFLM member countries responded. Seven out of the 28 (25%) have national phlebotomy guidelines and five have implemented other guidelines. The estimated compliance with phlebotomy guidance for the laboratories in the countries that have national guidelines available is poor, regardless to whether the phlebotomy was under the laboratory control or not. Most countries were interested in EFLM guidelines and to participate in a pilot EFLM preanalytical phase external quality assessment (EQA) scheme. In the responding EFLM member countries, the majority of phlebotomy is performed by nurses and laboratory technicians. Their basic education is generally 4-5 years of high school, followed by 2-5 years of colleague or university studies. Only a third (10/28; 36%) of the participating member countries has any specific training available as a continuous educational resource. A specific training for phlebotomy is not part of the education required to become qualified in 6/28 (21%) and 9/28 (32%) of countries for nurses and laboratory technicians, respectively. In countries and professions where training is required, most require more than 5 h of training.

Conclusions: Based on the results of this survey we conclude the following: 1) There is a need to assess the quality of current practices, compliance to the CLSI H3-A6 guidelines and to identify some most critical steps which occur during phlebotomy, in different healthcare settings, across Europe; 2) Existing CLSI H3-A6 phlebotomy guidelines should be adapted and used locally in all European countries which do not have their own guidelines; 3) National EFLM societies need to be engaged in basic training program development and continuous education of healthcare phlebotomy staff (implementing the certification of competence).

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