Order of blood draw: Opinion Paper by the European Federation for Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EFLM) Working Group for the Preanalytical Phase (WG-PRE)

Michael Cornes, Edmée van Dongen-Lases, Kjell Grankvist, Mercedes Ibarz, Gunn Kristensen, Giuseppe Lippi, Mads Nybo, Ana-Maria Simundic

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    It has been well reported over recent years that most errors within the total testing process occur in the pre-analytical phase (46%-68.2%), an area that is usually outside of the direct control of the laboratory and which includes sample collection (phlebotomy). National and international (WHO, CLSI) guidelines recommend that the order of draw of blood during phlebotomy should be blood culture/sterile tubes, then plain tubes/gel tubes, then tubes containing additives. This prevents contamination of sample tubes with additives from previous tubes that could cause erroneous results. There have been a number of studies recently looking at whether order of draw remains a problem with modern phlebotomy techniques and materials, or it is an outdated practice followed simply because of historical reasons. In the following article, the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine Working Group for the Preanalytical Phase (EFLM WG-PRE) provides an overview and summary of the literature with regards to order of draw in venous blood collection. Given the evidence presented in this article, the EFLM WG-PRE herein concludes that a significant frequency of sample contamination does occur if order of draw is not followed during blood collection and when performing venipuncture under less than ideal circumstances, thus putting patient safety at risk. Moreover, given that order of draw is not difficult to follow and knowing that ideal phlebotomy conditions and protocols are not always followed or possible, EFLM WG-PRE supports the continued recommendation of ensuring a correct order of draw for venous blood collection
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)27-31
    JournalClinical chemistry and laboratory medicine
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

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