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This post will look at the vacutainer blood collection methodology; defining what a vacutainer is and summarising how when and why they are used as well as the advantages of this system when using Blue Horizon Medicals services.
Previous blood collection methods were timeconsuming and laborious so when, in 1949, Joseph Kleiner patented the first evacutainer (now commonly known as vacutainer) it signalled the start of a vast improvement in both blood collection and analysis. Allowing greater accuracy, efficiency and safety for the phlebotomist whilst affording the patient a much more pleasant experience, it was the birth of the blood collection process we still use today.
The vacutainer kit you will receive from Blue Horizon Medicals is a sterilised plastic container with a colour coded rubber top. This stopper is used to create a vacuum inside of the tube which allows a set amount of blood to be drawn, the lid must be left on the tube at all times; preserving the vacuum inside. When using the vacutainer kit the phlebotomist will firstly puncture the vein using a hypodermic needle which is carried in a plastic holder. This needle is double ended and when a vacutainer tube is pushed on top of the holder the rubber cap or stopper is pierced and the pressure difference between the blood in the arm and the vacuum in the tube allows blood to flow through the needle, filling the tube. This process also greatly reduces the risk of haemolysis (burst blood cells) because it allows the blood to flow at a safe speed. Once full the vacutainer can be removed and others added to be filled in the same way. If you select the option to have a nurse visit you at home or work to draw blood using a Blue Horizon Medicals kit, this is the method they will be using.
One key advantage of this new system is the ability to line the tubes with additives before they are used; they have a range of uses and the stoppers have different colours, each colour will represent its own additive. The main functions of the additives are to promote faster clotting; enable anticoagulation or to help preserve and stabilise certain analytes or cells. The inclusion of the additives at proper concentrations greatly enhances the accuracy and consistency of test results and therefore allows faster turnaround times in the laboratories. It is the same with the modern mini collect and microtainer kits which can be used for some testing requirements.
All vacutainer kits will generally be limited by the lifeline of the additives. Many factors such as temperature, altitude, humidity and light can all influence both the lifetime of the vacutainer and the amount of blood that can successfully be drawn. Plastic kits will also be susceptible to a loss of vacuum over time so the usability of these kits will also be determined by the time frame to draw the required amount of blood. When you receive your postal kit, you will be able to check how long you have to use it by checking the label on the vacutainer.
In summary, the vacutainer kits are an excellent means by which to collect a viable and stable blood sample. A commonly used phrase in the pathology world is that “the analysis is only as good as the sample”, whilst this may seem obvious it is also very important. The closed system offered by using a vacutainer kit all but eliminates the possibility of foreign bodies entering the sample. As already shown the reduction in time plus ease of use of this method, whilst offering greater accuracy of collection and results in a highly efficient and safe manner, all show that this it is an excellent choice for testing through Blue Horizon Medicals.