Ask most people how they feel about having their blood drawn and you will most likely hear comments about the experience being unpleasant and something they do not look forward to having done. It is not often that someone will say that they enjoy having a needle pierce their skin and blood extracted from their veins!
Keeping patients satisfied with their blood drawing experience at the Department of Pathology’s Outpatient Phlebotomy sites is an ongoing challenge. For several years our Pathology Phlebotomy area monitored whether patients were satisfied with their outpatient phlebotomy encounter and asked if there were any specific complaints. Even though our patient satisfaction numbers were good — generally >90% of patients responded that they were satisfied — we found that this information was not good enough. Why were patients satisfied and what could we do to improve our services?
It wasn’t sufficient to ensure the patients were satisfied with their phlebotomy experience but equally important was patient safety. Our phlebotomy leadership regularly monitored phlebotomy staff’s compliance with adherence to National Patient Safety Goals and found excellent compliance. But just as traffic slows down when they see radar in use, it could not be determined that staff were just as compliant when leadership was not watching.
Beginning in August 2009, the Pathology Outpatient Phlebotomy Patient Satisfaction Survey was modified to include not just questions regarding satisfaction and wait times but compliance of the phlebotomist with National Patient Safety Goals. New questions were included. “Did the phlebotomist ask you to state your name and date of birth?” “Did the phlebotomist label your samples in your presence?” Recently added was, “Did the phlebotomist cleanse his/her hands before and after drawing your blood?” These questions give direct feedback to compliance with National Patient Safety Goals. In addition to the Patient Satisfaction Survey, each patient is given a signed thank you card from the phlebotomist.
At each month’s Pathology Phlebotomy staff meeting, a summary of the previous month’s Patient Satisfaction Survey results is presented and any negative comments are discussed to identify opportunities to continually improve Outpatient Phlebotomy Services.
Juanita Stem, MT(ASCP)