One of these things is not like the others…

Sounds familiar? Growing up, it’s my favorite Sesame Street segment. At several recent meetings with physician groups and administrators who were getting ready to open up an infusion center, it became very obvious they were confused about the following.

1. An infusion nurse (aka IV nurse) is not the same as a phlebotomist.

  • An infusion nurse inserts an IV catheter into A vein to “infuse” solutions or medications (Infusion therapy). On occasion, an infusion nurse may draw blood from the IV catheter immediately after insertion then leaves the IV catheter dwelling in the veins so a patient can  receive IV solutions or IV medications .
  • A phlebotomist  performs a blood drawing procedure called “phlebotomy” where only the tip of a needle is inserted into a vein to draw out blood, then the needle is removed when all blood tubes have been collected.

2.  An infusion nurse is:

  • One who has acquired knowledge and skill in the specialty practice of infusion nursing. The infusion nurse is accountable for practicing within the defined scope of practice for the RN and is committed to providing safe, quality infusion nursing care. The infusion nurse’s practice is based upon the following:
    • Knowledge of anatomy and physiology
    • Specific knowledge and understanding of the vascular system and its relationship with other body systems and infusion treatment modalities
    • Participation in the establishment of the patient’s ongoing plan of care
    • Skills necessary for the administration of infusion therapies
    • Knowledge of state-of-the-art technologies associated with infusion therapies
    • Knowledge of psychosocial aspects of care, including a sensitivity to the patient’s wholeness, uniqueness, and significant social relationships, along with knowledge of community and economic resources
    • Interaction and collaboration with members of the healthcare team and participation in clinical decision-making processes
  • Phlebotomists are medical professionals who draw blood from patients for various lab tests and procedures. A high school graduate or college student could take a course at a local technical or vocational school and learn phlebotomy. Many professionals who plan to become a nurse or a doctor often start out by working in a medical office or hospital as a phlebotomist. Because phlebotomy entails a fairly short training period, and because phlebotomist jobs are relatively easy to find and obtain, phlebotomy is a great way for someone to try out the medical profession.
Many physician offices have medical assistants or phlebotomists on staff so when planning to offer infusion therapy services in their offices, they think they can leverage and save money by utilizing these unlicensed medical personnel.

There shouldn’t be any confusion about this….

“Phlebotomists do phlebotomy but are not infusion nurses and should not administer infusion therapies”
“Infusion nurses can administer infusion therapies, perform venipuncture and occasionally perform phlebotomy but are not phlebotomists”
One of these things just doesn’t belong,  can you tell which thing is not like the others…. by the time I finish my song?

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