Therapeutic Phlebotomy Process–Updated


Therapeutic phlebotomy is a medical procedure that requires a written physician’s order and review/approval by a transfusion medicine physician.  Transfusion Medicine is responsible for the procedure and makes the final decision of the conditions of the procedure (volume of whole blood and venue).


  1. The most responsible physician or a member of his clinical team will write a specific order for therapeutic phlebotomy including:
    1. Clinical diagnosis
    2. Medications
    3. Quantity and frequency of the procedure
  2. No procedures will be done without a physician’s order.
    1. Verbal orders may be given directly to the responsible transfusion medicine physician.
  3. Blood Donor Center nurses will NOT process orders from outside Transfusion Medicine.  Final approval is only by a transfusion medicine physician.
  4. Phlebotomy Process:
    1. Blood Donor Center nurses will obtain informed consent for the procedure.
    2. Blood Donor Center nurses or donor technicians will take the vital signs (BP, pulse, temperature, weight, and respiratory rate) and will examine the patient’s arms for suitability for phlebotomy.
    3. The doctor’s order along with the vital sign data will be given to the responsible transfusion medicine physician for review.
    4. The transfusion medicine physician will:
      1. Use the criteria of the Therapeutic Phlebotomy Annual Review
      2. Review the written (or verbal) order.
      3. Determine the exact quantity of whole blood to be removed.
      4. Determine if it is safe to perform the procedure in the Donor Center or:
      5. Advise the ordering physician of an alternate, appropriate venue (ICU, ER, CCU, etc.)
      6. Write the final order for the procedure in the appropriate Transfusion Medicine record.
    5. The actual phlebotomy will be performed the same as a whole blood donation using sterile technique including arm preparation.
  5. The collected volume will be discarded immediately after drawn.
    1. No therapeutic phlebotomy whole blood collections will be used for transfusion.
  6. Records of the following will be retained:
    1. Clinical doctor’s order
    2. Vital signs of patient
    3. Patient’s consent
    4. Any notes, including descriptions of reactions
  7. Reactions to the phlebotomy procedure will be handled the same as donor reactions.
  8. Any variances to the above process must be approved by the transfusion medicine physician, forwarded to the Head, Transfusion Medicine, for his review, and documented on the appropriate variance form.


Standards for Blood Banks and Transfusion Services, Current Edition, AABB, Bethesda, MD, USA.

Annual Review:  Therapeutic Phlebotomy Criteria and Treatment Goals