two tries medical rule

When you’re a cancer patient, you get poked, prodded, cut open, and stitched back together more times than you’d ever want. Sometimes this happens unnecessarily. You may not know that your nurse, phlebotomist, or doctor may actually be in violation of medical protocol. Now, most nurses I’ve dealt with during my cancer journey were really good, but on occasion I had one that needed a reminder: I knew the “Two Tries’ rule, and I wasn’t going to let them break it, especially after I had already been poked and prodded for weeks on end. So…what is the Two Tries rule? I’m soooo glad you asked! 😉

Two Tries: The Medical Rule Most Cancer Patients Don’t Know

When my sister was taking her classes to become a certified Laboratory Technologist, she had a variety of instructors licensed and certified in different things. One was a Phlebotomist, one a Medical Technologist, a few were nurses, etc. Anyway, what they all had in common was the Two Tries Rule, and this is what it is in a nutshell:

When someone is drawing your blood, they get TWO TRIES to hit a vain. After that, if they haven’t had success, they are legally required to get another person to try and draw your blood.

That’s it! That’s the rule! And you know what? I made sure I enacted it in full force when I was going through cancer treatment. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t one of those patients eager to see someone screw up so I could yell and scream at them for not doing their job. People are human, and many humans I know didn’t pay attention 100% during their classes, so chances are your nurse didn’t either (scary thought, isn’t it?). What I did do is make sure that the lab tech or nurse drawing my blood understood that she got two chances – and occasionally I had to have someone else draw my blood.

Why It Matters

Why was I so adamant about it? There was one nurse in particular whom I always HATED having when I had to have blood drawn. She would stab me like Michael Meyers then, when she punctured my vain through and through or missed it entirely, she would move the needle in my arm so that she could get the vain. I’m still not sure whether or not that’s allowed.

The problem with this is that she never pulled the needle out to try again, so she technically just poked me once. But I always ended up with huge bruises that would render my arm useless. Today, that’s an issue for me. I have lymph nodes removed from my left side, and I can’t have blood drawn from my left arm due to the risk of inducing lymphedema. So, when you have one bruised arm from which they can get blood, that’s a problem.

Make sure, as a cancer patient (or medical patient in general), that you advocate for yourself. Medical personnel get lazy and cut corners too – I’ve seen it with my own eyes. If you don’t understand a procedure or what you’re having done, ASK! Speak up for yourself.

Most cancer patients typically know the best place where the nurse can draw blood. Don’t let a nurse or phlebotomist draw from somewhere else just because she or he doesn’t want to draw from that area. Collapsing veins can be a problem, especially as a person ages. A good nurse, however, will usually be able to draw blood from your designated spot. Just speak up and let the nurse know where she can best draw blood. The whole experience will go A LOT smoother – for both of you.

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