Therapeutic Phlebotomy

Therapeutic Phlebotomy Alleviates Blood Disorder Symptoms

If you have been diagnosed with a certain blood disorder, such as polycythemia, porphyria or hemachromatosis, your doctor may order a therapeutic phlebotomy -- the withdrawal of a prescribed amount of blood -- to help relieve your symptoms.

Preparation and Procedure

  • Therapeutic phlebotomies are performed by appointment only. Your first phlebotomy appointment will be scheduled by your physician.
  • On the day of your appointment, put on a short-sleeve or loose-fitting shirt to allow easy access to your arms.
  • Eat a light meal before you go to the infusion center. If you are on any medications, you may take them at your usual time unless your doctor instructs you otherwise.
  • Arrive 10-15 minutes before your scheduled appointment time and register at the desk.
  • A technician will draw a blood sample from your arm to test your blood count (hemoglobin level) while you wait. This takes approximately 15 minutes.
  • Your blood count will be matched with the target hemoglobin level provided by your doctor. If your hemoglobin level is found to be higher, a unit of blood will be drawn from you to bring it down to the target level.
  • You will be given juice to drink after the procedure and advised to continue drinking fluids for the rest of the day.
  • If you are scheduled to have phlebotomies on a regular basis, you will be given an appointment card for your next visit.
  • You should make arrangements to have someone drive you home. If this is not possible, you will be asked to wait at least 20 minutes before driving.

Sometimes tests other than blood counts are performed to determine your need for phlebotomy.  You may need to have these tests done before you come for the phlebotomy. Your physician will explain this to you.

Time Required

Although the actual drawing of blood takes only about 5-15 minutes, your total time in the infusion center will be approximately one hour.

Doctor's Order Required

Michigan law requires that a valid order signed by an authorized person be presented before any laboratory test or procedure can be conducted. Authorized persons are defined as physicians, physician assistants, or nurse practitioners. These professionals are legally responsible for interpreting the results of tests based on their knowledge of the individual patient.

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