What Does A Phlebotomist Do?

Our experienced pathology trainers travel across Australia to conduct on-the-job training, but ever wondered what a Pathology Collector actually does?

A phlebotomist (pathology collector) is an integral part of the health care system. A phlebotomist is a person responsible for drawing blood from patients for lab tests, transfusions, or donation. Phlebotomists are trained to collect blood via venipuncture (needle used to draw blood from veins), finger pricks, or heel pricks. As a phlebotomist you never stop learning and are required to have a sound understanding of many aspects in the health care system including the composition of the blood.

COMPOSITION OF THE BLOOD

Blood comprises of both cellular (formed elements) and liquid (plasma).

FORMED ELEMENTS

Red blood cells (erythrocytes) are responsible for transporting oxygen around the body.
They constitute about 96% of the formed elements. Its normal value average is around 4,800,000 in women, and about 5,400,000 in the male, red blood cells per mm ³.

The hemoglobin contained exclusively in the red blood cells is pigment a protein conjugate containing the group “heme”. It also transports carbon dioxide, most of which is dissolved in the erythrocytes and to a lesser extent in the plasma. White blood cells (leucocytes) are part of cellular players’ immune system and have migratory capacity using blood as a vehicle to access parts of the body. They are responsible for destroying infectious agents and infected cells and secrete protective substances such as antibodies.

Normal leucocyte count is within a range of 4,500 to 11,500 cells per mm³, varying according to the physiological conditions (pregnancy, stress etc.) and pathological (infection, cancer, immune suppression etc.). The percentage counts of different types of leukocytes are called “differential count”.

Platelets (thrombocytes) are small blood cells that help blood clot. When a blood vessel is damaged, platelets gather at the site and make a plug. Clotting helps slow down and stop bleeding and helps wounds heal. Like other blood cells, platelets are made in the bone marrow. They survive in the circulation for 8-10 days which is why it needs to continually make new ones, to replace old, used, or those lost through bleeding. Apart from wound healing, platelets are also involved in immune defence and inflammation.

PLASMA

About 55% of blood is plasma, and the remaining 45% are red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets suspended in the plasma. Plasma is about 92% water, 7% vital proteins such as albumin and anti-hemophilic factor, and 1% mineral salts, sugars, fats, hormones and vitamins.

Plasma serves four important functions in our body:

  1. Helps maintain blood pressure and volume.
  2. Supply critical proteins for blood clotting and immunity.
  3. Carries electrolytes such as sodium and potassium to our muscles.
  4. Helps to maintain a proper pH balance in the body, which supports cell function.

If you are interested in becoming a Pathology Collector, drop us a line at [email protected]