Phlebotomists regularly use single-use tourniquets to improve hygiene. Most tourniquets are latex-free to avoid any potential allergic reaction.
First-responders and other professionals will typically have access to commercial tourniquets. These are made of specialist materials designed to stretch and conform to the shape of the patient’s body. They are also usually made of hygienic materials to avoid infection.
Non-professionals or those who do not have access to commercial-grade tourniquets can improvise. Research shows that the majority of improvised tourniquets are effective. Attempting to stop bleeding in emergency situations is the primary concern, above and beyond the hygiene characteristics to apply the tourniquet itself.
Before applying a tourniquet in the field, ensure your own safety first. If available, use personal protective equipment to prevent any of the patient’s blood from coming into contact with your body.
PhlebotomyU offers several courses. In our CPT I classes, students will receive hands on experience and practice this procedure in clinical and classroom settings. Contact PhlebotomyU today to learn which course is best for you.
How To Tie Tourniquets For Phlebotomy
The following instructions on how to tie a tourniquet apply to the cubital fossa region. Phlebotomists typically do this to make it easier to feel for veins.
Step 1: Expose The Arm
Patients may be wearing long-sleeved clothing. Either ask them to remove the clothing or roll back the sleeve until it is around halfway up the upper arm. Remove any accessories that they might be wearing on their arm, such as a wristwatch. The cubital fossa area should be fully visible with additional space around it to the top and bottom.
Step 2: Place The Tourniquet Under The Patient’s Arm
Start by placing the tourniquet under the patients’ arm, approximately four finger widths from the cubital fossa. Take each end of the tourniquet, one in each hand, and place it flat over the back of the arm.
Step 3: Tie The Tourniquet
Wrap the two ends of the tourniquet over the top of the patient’s arm and swap the hands holding them. If the top of the tourniquet was in the right hand, swap it over so that it is now in the left hand, and vice versa.
Next, pull both ends upwards slightly towards the patient’s shoulder to form an X shape. Take the right end of the tourniquet and then fold it back on itself and tuck it under the left end and pull tight. The right end should point in the direction of the patient’s shoulder while the left end points towards their left arm.
You can tie tourniquets using a second technique. Bring the tourniquet over the top of the patient’s arm as before, ensuring that the inside end is longer than the outside end. Now hold up both and cinch down on the tourniquet at the arm so that you have two free ends. Turn the tourniquet and tuck the right one underneath (or whichever one is on the outside) while folding it in half, creating the two tails as before – the right one pointing to the patient’s shoulder, and the left one towards their left arm.
Modern tourniquets are made of semi-elastic material that should snap into place easily after tying. You may notice that if you attempt to tie the tourniquet slowly, the results are not as good as when you do it at normal speed. If you are struggling to tie the tourniquet, you can practice on a fake arm.
Step 4: Distend Veins
Once the tourniquet is in place, the patient can then flex their wrist to distend their veins. You should be able to see the median cubital vein, the cephalic and the basilic.
Avoid leaving the tourniquet on the patient’s arm for more than 60 seconds when looking for suitable veins to draw from.
Step 5: Remove The Tourniquet
You can remove the tourniquet from the patients’ arm easily by pulling on the free end. You can then place it in a trash receptacle.
Can You Use A Tourniquet To Stop Bleeding?
Most patients will receive tourniquets to help phlebotomists identify veins for venipuncture. However, a tourniquet can also prevent blood flow to a wound. First responders, for instance, may use a tourniquet for emergency first aid.
It is critical that only trained medical professionals apply tourniquets, except in life-threatening emergencies when no such help is available. Emergency situations could include car accidents, gunshot wounds, or crushed limbs following workplace injury. Improper application can lead to tissue damage.
Most people won’t find themselves in a situation where they need to apply a tourniquet. However, it can be a life-saving skill should the medical necessity arise. If you haven’t done so already, make sure that you add a tourniquet to your first aid kit.
Enroll at PhlebotomyU Today
After achieving your CPT1 certificate at PhlebotomyU, you will be ready to find your dream phlebotomy job. As a nationally accredited phlebotomy training program, PhlebotomyU prepares its students with the skills they need to succeed afterwards including career services , a phlebotomy internship, and more. Interested? Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.