A large number of supplies are necessary for the phlebotomist to perform his or her job. These are generally supplied by the phlebotomist’s employer, but it is incumbent upon the aspiring phlebotomist to know what supplies and equipment are needed in the profession and how to use them effectively. It is also important to know how to keep the tools of the profession sterilized and how to dispose of used supplies properly. Blood can spread infections, sometimes deadly ones, and appropriate handling of phlebotomy supplies is of the utmost importance.
Obviously, the needle and syringe are at the top of the list in importance to the phlebotomist. They are used to collect blood and, as potential vectors for blood-borne pathogens, they must be handled and disposed of with great care. More than one type of needle is used by the phlebotomist, with different types being appropriate for different veins, different patients, and different uses. If a needle is being inserted for an IV drip, for instance, it may need to be of a very different gauge than a needle used for withdrawing blood. Other supplies include the tubes used for storing the blood samples being sent to the laboratory, which are often of a brand called Vacutainer. These tubes are color coded to indicate the type of additive that has been used with the blood – for instance, anticoagulants to prevent the blood from clotting before it can be analyzed.
Many other types of supplies are used in the course of the phlebotomist’s job – for instance, lancets, tourniquets, bandages, cotton balls, bottles for culturing blood, gloves, and disposal containers for medical waste. Some of the most important supplies are those used for sterilizing reusable materials, one of the most basic of which is isopropyl alcohol and the swabs used to apply it.