Course # DL-954: Updated Review of Blood Collection Equipment

by Patty Fawkes, CLS, Kaweah Delta Healthcare District and Rebecca Rosser, CLS, Kaiser Permanente

Approved for 1.0 CE
Level of Difficulty: Basic


Phlebotomy is the practice of drawing blood. The word phlebotomy is derived from Greek: phlebo- means vein and –tomy means to make an incision.

Some authorities believe phlebotomy dates back to the last period of the Stone Age when crude tools were used to puncture vessels to allow excess blood to drain out of the body. There is evidence of bloodletting in Egypt around 1400 B.C. in a painting in a tomb showing the application of a leech to a patient. Even in the Middle Ages barber surgeons flourished by performing bloodletting, wound surgery, cupping, leeching, shaving, extraction of teeth and administering of enemas. The familiar stripes on the barber pole symbolized red for blood and white for bandages.

Early phlebotomy equipment consisted basically of a bleeding bowl, leech jar, cupping glass, evacuating pump and lancets called fleams.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, phlebotomy was considered a major therapeutic treatment process and anyone willing to claim medical training could perform phlebotomy. The practice of phlebotomy continues today, however, principles and methods have dramatically improved. Phlebotomy now has certain characteristics that balance knowledge and theory with practical expertise.

Today the main purpose of phlebotomy is to obtain blood for diagnostic testing, to remove blood for transfusion purposes, and in therapy of patients with polycythemia (a disease involving overproduction of red blood cells) or hemochromatosis (a rare disease characterized by excess iron deposits throughout the body). It involves highly developed and rigorously tested procedures and equipment to ensure the safety and comfort of the patient and the integrity of the sample collected.

Phlebotomy skills and responsibilities are performed in a variety of healthcare settings ranging from hospital care units to home health settings. Furthermore, phlebotomy practice is more widely performed by all types of health care professionals including nurses, respiratory therapists, emergency medical technicians (EMT’s), and clinical laboratory professionals.

This continuing education unit will review the primary duties of the phlebotomist and the equipment necessary to collect a sample from an adult patient, using safety techniques.


  1. List the equipment and supplies needed to collect blood by venipuncture.
  2. List the various types of anticoagulants, their mechanism for preventing blood from clotting and the color coding associated with each additive.
  3. Discuss the principle behind the syringe system order of draw and the evacuated tube system order of draw.
  4. Name the various types of needles used in the syringe system.


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