It is easy to underestimate the difficulty of becoming a trained phlebotomist. Phlebotomy training involves far more than just learning to draw blood. That skill can be mastered quickly by most, at least on the typical patients with large and easily visible veins. The most difficult part for some can be memorizing all of the rules and procedures, particularly the order of draw.
The Order Of Draw
Phlebotomy isn’t always as simple as drawing a single sample of blood. In most cases, the blood is going to be tested in a number of different ways. Different tests have different requirements for how much blood should be taken, how it should be stored, what additives need to be added, and so on. Because of these variations, phlebotomists must memorize and follow a specific order of draw.
The order of draw corresponds to color coded vials for blood samples. They must be filled in a certain order to ensure that none of the samples become contaminated or degraded. Mixing up the order of draw can harm the test results of blood draws if you are not careful. The order of draw also dictates how you have to prepare the samples, such as how much to fill the vial or how many times to invert it (turning the vial upside down and back up again.)
Sample Order Of Draw Colors
The exact colors for the draw orders may vary slightly between manufacturers. The colors refer to the color of the cap at the top of the stoppers of your vials. In general they follow this order:
- Light Blue
- Gold or Striped
- Dark/Bright Blue
Depending on what you are drawing blood for, you may have a smaller number of vials, with some of the colors missing.
Remembering the Order
There are many different ways that you can learn the order of draw. Start by coming up with pneumonic devices to make keeping track of them easier. Think back to school when your teachers taught you the phrase “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” as a way to get you to remember the order of operations for math: parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction. Developing a phrase that corresponds to the order and is easy for you to memorize can greatly help.
If little word tricks never helped you memorize anything there is an even easier way to keep track of the order of draw colors, but unfortunately this one will not work for your phlebotomy test. You can buy jewelry and accessories that have the different draw colors on them, in the proper order so it is easy for you to remember. Bracelets with bead or decorations that correspond to the colors or watches that have colored numerals following the order of draw make it impossible to forget the order.
Memorization of the order of draw should never be dismissed, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot take advantage of some simple tricks to make learning and recalling the order easier.