Tips on Preventing Hemolysis

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In the laboratory, it is crucial that the clinical laboratory scientist performs the tests reliably, because the doctor bases his diagnosis on these laboratory results. Any source of error therefore is eliminated to ensure that all results are accurate. One source of unreliable results is hemolysis.   Hemolysis is the destruction or rupture of red blood cells (RBCs) causing the release of hemoglobin.   An indication of hemolysis is a pink colored serum or plasma.

Here are pointers to avoid hemolysis in blood samples.

1. Do not use wet materials because water is a hypotonic solution that causes lysis of RBCs.

2. Do not squirt blood directly into the test tube. The rapid flow may cause hemolysis. Allow the blood instead to ooze at the sides of the tube.

3. Remove the needle before transferring the blood to appropriate containers, the small opening of the needle may cause hemolysis.

4. Do not centrifuge blood if it still has not clotted properly.

5. Do not rim or ring the blood several times. This is one major source of hemolysis.

6. Do not freeze whole blood right after collection.

7. Do not vigorously shake whole blood, to avoid hemolysis in blood samples.

8. Do not expose the whole blood specimen to excessively low and hot temperatures.

9. Do not prolong tourniquet application more than necessary.

10.  Transfer the serum immediately to a different container to reduce the propensity for hemolysis.

11.  Do not pull the plunger too quickly. If the bore of the needle is small, it may cause hemolysis

12.   Allow the site to dry first after sterilization.  The alcohol still present in the area may come in contact with your sample and may produce hemolysis.

13.  There should be a proper angle of the needle to the vein to avoid transfixation, which may cause hemolysis.

14.  Any application of mechanical trauma or pressure on the blood sample will cause hemolysis, whether during collection, processing, or transportation.

Avoid hemolysis in blood samples at all cost, as this would produce unreliable results.  Unreliable results would lead to misdiagnosis. Misdiagnosis by the doctor because of your inaccurate results would endanger the life of the patient.  Remember these pointers on how to avoid hemolysis in blood samples and feel confident and secure that you are giving out your best service to patients.  Consider each patient as an important individual who deserves to  receive reliable results.

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