Phlebotomy

Blood and Phlebotomy

Interested in becoming a medical assistant? One of the most important skills a medical assistant can learn is phlebotomy. Phlebotomy, or venipuncture, is the art of drawing blood from a vein with a needle. It’s a highly technical, multi-step skill that requires clinical know-how, good judgment and the ability to make clients feel at ease. Among the wide range of a medical assistant’s responsibilities, drawing blood is among the most essential.

Why is Phlebotomy Important?

Changes in the blood tell a doctor a lot about what’s going on in the body. Samples are used to diagnose and treat diseases such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Anemia
  • Cancer
  • Thyroid disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • High cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Lyme disease
  • Liver and kidney disorders
  • Infections

Drawing blood is also used to conduct blood type tests that classify blood into groups based on the presence of surface antibodies is critical for transfusions and self-donation. Blood tests are also used to monitor therapeutic levels of medications, so doctors know if patients are getting enough or too much.

The Medical Assistant’s Role in Phlebotomy

Drawing blood may be just one part of a medical assistant’s day, but in larger practices or hospitals, phlebotomy can be a full-time job. Either way, the process consists of the same four steps. These steps include reviewing the order, educating the patient, obtaining consent and the actual act of venipuncture.

Reviewing the Phlebotomy Order
Venipuncture is only performed with a doctor’s order. Medical assistants don’t decide which tests to do, but they must review orders carefully because each test requires different equipment and procedures.

Venipuncture is only one part of the testing process. Samples must be properly handled and correctly processed. Some tests require additional preparation on the part of the patient, such as fasting or taking a timed dose of medication.

Medical assistants are also responsible for coding requisitions and ensuring that diagnosis codes and tests match. Insurance companies won’t pay for a blood test to check for a broken bone. By evaluating orders, perceptive medical assistants can catch errors before they happen.

Educating the Patient about Phlebotomy
Clients have a right to know why venipuncture was ordered, how it will be performed, and what the risks are. With a working knowledge of both disease and laboratory procedures, medical assistants can help the doctor by ensuring patients are well informed. For example, because drawing blood breaks the skin, there is always a small risk of infection. Concerned patients will also want to know when to expect results and how they will be delivered.

Obtaining Consent for Drawing Blood
No medical procedure can be performed without a patient’s consent. Once the order has been checked and the patient understands the risk versus the benefits of testing, medical assistants are responsible for obtaining consent. A responsible parent or legal guardian must approve venipuncture for minors.

What is Venipuncture?
Venipuncture is a standardized technical process. Strict protocols are in place to ensure that blood is drawn correctly every time. The laboratory equipment used to test blood is painstakingly calibrated, so mishandling samples may render them unusable. Technique matters.

Drawing blood is also a stressful event for some patients with trypanophobia or hemophobia, fear of needles or blood. Sound clinical judgment is essential. When patients are at high risk for complications, it’s critical to take every measure possible to minimize the impact.

Phlebotomy Tools of the Trade

What type of equipment is used to perform venipuncture? The equipment includes gloves, alcohol pads, needles, tourniquets, vacuum tubes, gauze and bandages.

Gloves
To protect themselves and the patient from blood-borne disease, medical assistants perform venipuncture with gloves on, there are no exceptions.

Alcohol pads
Pre-moistened alcohol or chlorhexidine pads are used to cleanse the skin before inserting a needle. It doesn’t sterilize the area, but it reduces the number of bacteria and helps prevent infection.

Needles
Needles come in all sizes. Diameter is measured in gauge from 14 to 28, the larger the number, the smaller the needle. Based on the size of the patient and the condition of the vein, medical assistants choose the most appropriate size. For children, a 25 G needle is recommended, while a 20 or 22 G is more appropriate for adults.

Length is also important. The medial cubital vein at the crease of the elbow is typically the first choice for drawing blood, but the depth of the vein and the angle of approach may make longer or shorter needles better for the job. Choosing a needle with the optimal diameter and length increases the chances of success on the first attempt.

Tourniquets
A tourniquet helps confine blood to the arm, keeping the vein full and easier to see. It also makes blood vessels less likely to collapse under the pull of a vacuum tube.

Vacuum Tubes
Blood was once drawn with a syringe, but sealed vacuum tubes are now the norm. The strength of the vacuum alone pulls in blood at a pace that won’t damage blood cells. Color-coded tubes come preloaded with the additives necessary for specific tests, so it speeds up the process and reduces errors.

Gauze and Bandages
Since venipuncture pierces a vein, bleeding is to be expected. When the draw is complete, the site is compressed with gauze as pressure stops the bleeding. A small bandage will keep seepage from staining the patient’s clothing.

Phlebotomy Skills for Success
There are a few skills that are needed for a successful venipuncture. These skills include empathy, critical thinking, and attention to detail.

Empathy
Drawing blood causes no more pain than a pinch, but for clients who are afraid of needles or blood, it’s scary. Medical assistants need to see the procedure from the patient’s point of view and do whatever it takes to keep patients safe and put them at ease.

Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is the ability to assess facts and come to logical conclusions. Critical thinking is what helps a medical assistant choose the right equipment and phlebotomy techniques for individual patients. Better decisions equal better outcomes.

Attention to Detail
Medical errors impact patient health. A misspelled name on a label can lead to mistaken identity and using a tube with the wrong additive may mean a sample is rejected. Mistakes not only require redraws, but they also delay care. Attention to detail for a medical assistant is a must.

Final Thoughts

Because medical assistants are cross trained in both clinical and administrative procedures, they’re the ideal team members to handle phlebotomy in a busy doctor’s office. It’s a demanding responsibility, but one that contributes significantly to quality patient care.

Did learning about phlebotomy interest you? Interested in working with colleagues that want to help their patients stay healthy? Ready for an exciting new career in the medical assisting field? PCI Health Training Center’s Medical Assistant program prepares a graduate to work as an entry-level Medical Assistant. Within this general career category there are several specialty areas, including Medical Administrative Office Assistant, Clinic Assistant, Clinic Tech, Medical Office Manager, Phlebotomist and Physical Therapy Aide in a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital out-patient clinic. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a medical assistant and start a rewarding career today.

**PCI firmly upholds its policy of nondiscrimination. Inquiries regarding policy may be directed to TitleIXCoordinator@pcihealth.com.

For more information about our graduation rates and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information.

Health Habits for a Healthy Body

Good health habits for healthy bodies

A wholesome diet is the foundation of wellness. As a support professional, it’s a medical assistant’s role to help doctors, nurses and nutritionists educate patients about healthy eating habits. A medical assistant should understand how different types of foods affect the body and how certain foods relate to serious medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and stroke. These are the basics every medical assistant should know.

Basic Nutrition

Food is fuel for the body and comes in two essential forms, macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients include carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber and water. They are necessary for energy and healthy body function. Micronutrients, including vitamins and minerals, support the billions of chemical processes that occur in the body and are only needed in small quantities.

Macronutrients

Because macronutrients are consumed in large amounts, consistently eating too much or too little of any single type can cause or worsen disease. Balance is essential for good health.

Carbohydrates – Glucose, a simple sugar, is the body’s primary fuel, and it comes mostly from carbohydrates. So-called simple carbs like white bread and pasta have little fiber and are quickly converted by the body into glucose, causing blood sugar to spike and fall sharply. Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, vegetables and legumes take longer to digest and keep blood glucose, and energy level on a more even keel.

Protein is made up of nine amino acids, each with a unique function, from cellular repair to building muscle. Amino acids can’t be synthesized by the body and are found nowhere else in nature, so consuming protein regularly is a must. Meat, eggs, dairy products, vegetables, grains and legumes all contain protein, but only animal protein contains all nine amino acids.

Fats – also known as lipids, are vital for temperature regulation and serve as a secondary form of energy. Most come from food, but cholesterol, a sterol similar to fat, is also produced naturally by the liver. Fats insulate nerve fibers, support cell walls, and help the body process certain vitamins, but some are healthier than others. Saturated fat, found in most animal products, is associated with higher rates of heart disease, while unsaturated fat, found in vegetables, fruits and fish may have a protective effect.

Fiber – is not digestible and comes in two varieties, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in a fluid. It helps regulate blood sugar and lipids and may decrease inflammation. Insoluble fiber provides bulk and helps stool move through the intestinal tract. Both play a role in preventing constipation and maintaining a healthy balance of gut microorganisms.

Water – Every chemical reaction in the body requires water. It regulates body temperature, hydrates skin, lubricates joints and muscles and helps the body process waste. Up to 60 percent of the human body is water, and without it, life is not sustainable.

Micronutrients

Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals essential for good health.

Vitamins – Thirteen vitamins come in two forms, fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins including A, D, E and K need lipids to be absorbed and are stored in the body. Water-soluble vitamins including eight B-vitamins and vitamin C dissolve in water and can’t be stored. Each has a different, but necessary role in the body. Vitamin deficiencies are rare in the United States, but because animal products are the best natural source of vitamin B-12, vegans may need a supplement or fortified foods to get the recommended daily allowance.

Minerals – The body needs five major minerals including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and sodium plus small amounts of trace minerals including iron, zinc, copper, manganese, fluoride, cobalt and selenium. Like vitamins, each plays a different role, but all are critical to healthy body function. Because minerals control the body’s fluid and pH balance, even minor deficiencies or excesses should be avoided.

Diet as a Tool for Good Health Habits

Doctors and nutritionists recommend proper nutrition as one of many good health habits that can decrease the risk of disease, but they also use dietary modifications to manage certain chronic conditions.

High Blood Pressure

Sodium may not be directly responsible for hypertension, but because it controls fluid balance in the body, overuse can cause water retention that raises blood pressure and damages the kidneys. To prevent hypertension, consuming less than 2000 milligrams of sodium daily by avoiding salty and processed foods is recommended. For clients diagnosed with high blood pressure, less than 1500 milligrams is the target.

Atherosclerotic Heart Disease and Stroke

Atherosclerotic heart disease is the progressive narrowing and stiffening of the coronary arteries due to a build-up of fatty plaques. Over time, this can lead to a complete arterial blockage and a heart attack. If a plaque ruptures, it can cause a blood clot that leads to stroke. Risk factors include smoking, hypertension, diabetes and stress, but also obesity and high cholesterol, which can be changed with diet. To manage the risk of heart disease and stroke, doctors recommend good health habits like cutting calories, decreasing sodium to lower blood pressure and eliminating the saturated fat that forms arterial plaques.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is an excess of blood sugar caused by the body’s resistance to insulin. It’s a complex disorder but is rooted in excess consumption of carbohydrates and obesity. As a lifestyle disease, it’s preventable with good health habits including a balanced diet.

Good Health Habits for Long-Term Wellness

Medical assistants can reinforce the doctors’ dietary recommendations and encourage clients to build on their nutrition efforts with these additional suggestions:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise
  • Manage stress by finding time to relax
  • Avoid micronutrient deficiencies by eating a well-balanced diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Sleep enough to feel rested
  • Maintain a normal weight
  • Stay hydrated
  • See a doctor as recommended for regular preventive care

Wellness is a journey built on a lifetime of good health habits. As part of the healthcare team, medical assistants can support their patients in that journey by being a valuable source of information and support.

Did learning about how medical assistants can educate patients about good health habits interest you? Interested in working with colleagues that want to help their patients stay healthy? Ready for an exciting new career in the medical assisting field? PCI Health Training Center’s Medical Assistant programs prepares a graduate to work as an entry-level Medical Assistant. Within this general career category there are several specialty areas, including Medical Administrative Office Assistant, Clinic Assistant, Clinic Tech, Medical Office Manager, Phlebotomist, Physical Therapy Aide in a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital out-patient clinic. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a medical assistant and start a rewarding career today.

**PCI firmly upholds its policy of nondiscrimination. Inquiries regarding policy may be directed to TitleIXCoordinator@pcihealth.com.

For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who complete the program, and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information.

 

 

Geriatric Patients

Managing geriatric patients guide

The population of people over 65 in the United States is going to continue to grow in the next few decades. That poses a challenge for the healthcare system, but it also creates unique career opportunities for medical assistants. Geriatrics, the care of older adults, is among the fastest up and coming specialties. For anyone interested in managing geriatric patients., it’s the perfect time to get involved. Are you asking yourself “What is geriatrics?”

What is Geriatrics?

Geriatrics is defined as care of the aging, but it’s more than that. While other branches of medicine focus exclusively on curing disease, geriatrics seeks to manage and prevent disability. It’s a critical distinction because as the body grows more fragile, even a minor illness can result in the loss of independence.

Managing medical issues, especially chronic conditions such as dementia and diabetes, is an important part of geriatrics. But it’s only one part of a greater mission, to help seniors manage their independence and live life to the fullest.

What are Geriatric Patient Needs

Geriatrics is holistic in nature. It considers the aging adult as a whole person, not a collection of symptoms or complaints. Geriatric practitioners know that senior health depends on a wide range of physical, emotional, social and financial factors. Geriatric medical assistants contribute to patient wellness by helping with all of those things, but it takes a special touch.

Geriatric patients have challenges that require medical assistants to adjust their techniques. For example, maintaining a neat and comfortable waiting area isn’t enough. Many geriatric patients have mobility issues that require adaptive equipment, so spaces must allow for the safe movement of wheelchairs, walkers and canes.

Checking in younger patients is quick, but older adults with sensory or cognitive impairments may need extra attention. From keeping things quiet so seniors can hear, to offering patient education materials in large print, geriatric care involves constant adaptation to the needs of a very diverse patient population.

Where Geriatric Medical Assistants Work

Most geriatric medical assistants work in doctor’s offices. But as geriatricians try to reach the elderly at the community level, medical assisting jobs in alternative settings. Wherever seniors need care, medical assistants can be an asset.

Medical Assistant’s Skills for Managing Geriatric Patients

A medical assistant providing geriatric care will need a few skills to succeed, including sensitivity, compassion, simplicity, awareness, open-mindedness, and most importantly dignity.

Sensitivity

Geriatric patients are varied individuals. One patient may need no more assistance than a young adult while another could need help every step of the way. The elderly are sensitive to changes in their level of function. Medical assistants need to walk a fine line between offering help and respecting a client’s independence. It takes finesse and sensitivity.

Compassion

Empathy is the ability to sense suffering, compassion is the willingness to help. The elderly are particularly vulnerable, and they need strong support from medical assistants who are willing to go the extra mile.

Simplicity

Geriatric patients are from a simpler time. Their perspective is different than those who have decades of life ahead of them. That doesn’t mean that they don’t want to learn new things or be attentive to details, but for the elderly, simple information is more actionable.

Awareness

Aging causes both physical and cognitive decline. While some geriatric patients are acutely aware of these changes, others are dangerously less cognizant. Octogenarians may say they take their medications as prescribed, but they may not recognize they have a memory impairment. Medical assistants need to be aware of subtle behaviors that indicate they need to dig further when investigating symptoms.

Open-mindedness

Just because the elderly need assistance doesn’t mean they forfeit their right to self-determination. It’s easy to approach geriatric patients as if they’re children, but they’re not. They’re adults with the right to make their own decisions, even when their choices differ from their doctor’s recommendations.

As a patient, it’s the geriatric patient’s goals, whatever they may be, that should drive a therapeutic relationship. Only by being respectful and open-minded can a medical assistant be genuinely supportive of what patients want.

Dignity

Many geriatric patients will need help managing everyday tasks like getting dressed, going to the bathroom and cleaning themselves. All of the former qualities are important for a geriatric medical assistant to remember including dignity. The geriatric medical assistant should listen to the patients concerns, ask their opinion instead of jumping to a conclusion, involve the patient in the decision making process, include them in the conversation, and most importantly speak to them like an adult. Many geriatric patients may have dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or memory loss but that is no reason to limit their dignity.

Final Thoughts

Many Americans are fast approaching retirement age, and with that comes a growing need for healthcare management, but there’s a shortage of qualified providers. As front-line caregivers, geriatric medical assistants have the right blend of administrative and clinical skills to bridge the gap.

Did learning about managing geriatric patients interest you? Interested in working with colleagues that want to help their patients stay healthy? Ready for an exciting new career in the medical assisting field? PCI Health Training Center’s Medical Assistant programs prepares a graduate to work as an entry-level Medical Assistant. Within this general career category there are several specialty areas, including Medical Administrative Office Assistant, Clinic Assistant, Clinic Tech, Medical Office Manager, Phlebotomist and Physical Therapy Aide in a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital out-patient clinic. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a medical assistant and start a rewarding career today.

**PCI firmly upholds its policy of nondiscrimination. Inquiries regarding policy may be directed to TitleIXCoordinator@pcihealth.com.

For more information about our graduation rates, and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information.

What is Blood Made Of

What is Blood Made Of

Did you know that the average adult body contains up to 6 liters of blood and accounts for approximately 8% of the body’s total weight? Blood is essential to the human body. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to tissues, taking away carbon dioxide and waste. Blood also is the transport mechanism for hormones and helps the body regulate its temperature.

It is important for medical assistants to understand what the blood is made of and how it assists the functions of the body. There are four types of blood: Type A blood, Type B blood, Type AB blood and Type O blood. Type O blood is considered a universal blood donor type because Type O blood can be given to most people, regardless of the recipient’s blood type.

The medical assistant should also be familiar with some common diseases and disorders of blood. A blood test can help diagnose the presence of an infection. Typically, the patient will have an abnormal cell count which will indicate a need for further testing to determine if the patient has a disease or disorder.

What is Blood Made Of?

A human’s blood is made up of red and white blood cells, platelets, and plasma.

Red Blood Cells – the percentage of red blood cells in a sample of blood is called the hematocrit. The hematocrit level in a healthy adult is approximately 45%. Most of the elements in blood are red blood cells and plasma. When red blood cells mature they lose their nuclei to make room for hemoglobin. Hemoglobin carries oxygen from the lungs to the body tissues and carries carbon dioxide from those tissues back to the lungs for release. Iron is necessary to make hemoglobin, and vitamin B12 and folic acid are factors that affect red blood cell production.

With the help of blood testing, the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide can be determined. Red blood cell counts can be performed by counting the number of cells in 1 cubic millimeter of blood. A normal red blood cell counts can be as much as 6 million red blood cells per cubic millimeter. A low red blood cell count can result in a decreased ability to transport oxygen throughout the body.

White Blood Cells – help fight bacteria, viruses and toxins in the blood. White blood cells also help to provide immunity, control inflammation and allergic reactions.

The number of white blood cells in 1 cubic millimeter of blood is upwards of 10,000 cells. Some white blood cells stay in the bloodstream to fight infection and others leave the bloodstream and enter the other tissues of the body.

Platelets – fragments of cells found in the blood stream. Platelets are important in the blood-clotting process. A normal platelet count can be as high as 450,000 platelets per microliter of blood.

The body also uses blood vessel spasm and blood coagulation, in addition to platelets, for bleeding control. When a blood vessel is broken, the muscle of the blood vessel wall begins to contract which causes the blood vessel to spasm. Platelets begin to stick to the injured blood vessel to plug up the wound. While the platelets plug the blood vessel temporarily, a blood clot forms. The combination of the fibrin created by the coagulation process and platelets that create a blood clot helps stop the bleeding until the blood vessel can repair itself.

Plasma – the liquid portion of the blood. Plasma is made up of mostly water but also includes proteins, nutrients, gases, electrolytes and waste products. Plasma is responsible for maintaining blood pressure transporting lipids and some fat-soluble vitamins, coagulation of blood.

Some of the nutrients in plasma include amino acids, glucose, and lipids. The gases dissolved in plasma include oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Electrolytes dissolved in the plasma include sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, bicarbonate, phosphate and sulfate.

Common Diseases and Disorders of the Blood System

There are a few common diseases and disorders of the blood system including anemia, leukemia and sickle cell anemia.

Anemia – a common condition where a person does not have enough red blood cells or hemoglobin in the blood to carry the oxygen needed by the body’s cells. The main causes of anemia are iron deficiency, chronic blood loss, vitamin deficiency, inability to absorb vitamin B12, side effects of a medication, chronic illness or a bone marrow disorder. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 1.6 billion people globally are living with anemia. If the patient is feeling tired, weak, looks pale, has numb or cold extremities, dizziness, headache or jaundice more tests should be conducted to confirm the patient has anemia.

Leukemia – a form of cancer in which the bone marrow produces a large number of abnormal white blood cells that prevent normal white blood cells from carrying out their defensive functions. Causes of leukemia include mutations in white blood cells, chemotherapy for treatment of other cancers, genetics and exposure to chemical agents. Approximately 60,000 new cases of Leukemia will be diagnosed in 2018, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Sickle Cell Anemia – a condition of abnormal hemoglobin that causes red blood cells to change shape and get stuck in capillaries. The primary cause of sickle cell anemia is hereditary factors. One in every thirteen African-Americans has sickle cell traits, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Symptoms of sickle cell anemia include episodes of pain, numbness in the extremities, fainting, fatigue, swollen hands and feet, jaundice, frequent infections, sour skin, stroke, seizure and breathing difficulties.

Did learning about blood interest you? Interested in working with colleagues who want to help their patients stay healthy? Ready for an exciting new career in the medical assisting field? PCI Health Training Center’s Medical Assistant program prepares a graduate to work as an entry-level Medical Assistant. Within this general career category there are several specialty areas, including Medical Administrative Office Assistant, Clinic Assistant, Clinic Tech, Medical Office Manager, Phlebotomist, Physical Therapy Aide in a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital out-patient clinic. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a medical assistant and start a rewarding career today.

 

**PCI firmly upholds its policy of nondiscrimination. Inquiries regarding policy may be directed to TitleIXCoordinator@pcihealth.com.

For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who complete the program, and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information.

 

What is an EKG

Whats an EKG - Medical Assisting Guide

What is the reason that made you interested in becoming a medical assistant? Do you enjoy learning about technology such as electrocardiograms (EKG)? The EKG is one the most common tests performed to identify heart conditions. Testing for heart and blood vessel disorders with an EKG is non-invasive and is used to assess the condition of the heart and blood vessels. The EKG machine will show if the patient’s heart is damaged or short of oxygen.

The medical assistant is responsible for obtaining a good-quality EKG without avoidable artifacts. An artifact is an abnormal signal that does not reflect electrical activity of the heart during the cardiac cycle. The medical assistant must make sure that the patient doesn’t move, there are no mechanical problems with the EKG machine, and there are no other machines turned on in the room that can interfere with the EKG.

What is an EKG?

The EKG is one of the most valuable diagnostic tools for evaluating the electrical pathways through the heart. An EKG is a test that measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat. With each beat, an electrical impulse travels through the heart, and the wave causes the muscle to squeeze and pump blood from the heart. The EKG can measure how fast the heart beats and how well the chambers conduct electrical energy.

Reason for Performing an EKG?

Before any EKG is performed, it is important for the medical assistant to interview the patient to obtain the medications they are currently taking. The reason is to help identify any changes or abnormalities that may arise in the EKG tracing. The physical, performed by the medical assistant, will provide vital signs from the patient that include weight, blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and body temperature to further supplement the EKG results. Prior to the EKG, the medical assistant will want to obtain current symptoms and a family history of cardiovascular disorders. Finally, the medical assistant will want to know about the patient’s social habits including the consumption of alcohol and tobacco, whether the patient has a healthy diet, and if they participate in any exercise regimens.

Preparing A Patient for an EKG?

Before performing the EKG, the medical assistant will want to make sure that no other machines in the room are causing any electric interference.
The medical assistant will turn on the EKG machine and explain the procedure to the patient, answering any questions the patient may have. The patient will be asked to remove all jewelry, socks and shoes and lay down on the table on his or her back. The medical assistant will ask the patient to breathe normally while laying still. The medical assistant will then clean the patient’s skin with rubbing alcohol where the electrodes will be placed and apply the electrodes in the proper positions. The EKG has 12 leads that produce a two-dimensional record of the impulse waves. Each lead records the electrical impulse through the heart from a different angle, giving the physician a complete view of the heart. The cables will then be attached to the electrodes. The medical assistant will enter the patient data into the EKG machine and the EKG tracing will begin. All artifacts are identified and eliminated if possible. After the EKG is complete, the medical assistant will remove electrodes allowing the patient privacy to get dressed. Lastly, the medical assistant will then record the procedure on the patient’s chart.

When to Perform an EKG?

An EKG can be performed during a routine physical examination or screening evaluation for patients with hereditary predisposition to cardiovascular issues. The EKG is also administered as part of a cardiac exercise stress test. An EKG should be ordered if the patient is experiencing any symptoms of cardiovascular issues including chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting or palpitations. The EKG can also be administered before surgery to make sure the patient’s heart is healthy enough to withstand the surgery.

When Does a Medical Assistant Learn to Administer an EKG?

Learning how to perform an EKG will be taught during a medical assisting program at a vocational institution. Students will perform EKGs under the supervision of instructors. The student will prepare both the patient and the EKG machine in an effort to learn how to perform the EKG with the least number of artifacts. The student will also learn how to record the EKG.

Final Thoughts

Becoming a medical assistant and administering an EKG is exciting and helping others is rewarding. There are many reasons to attend a vocational college’s medical assistant program. Small classes, dedicated instructors, day and evening classes and a quick start to earning are all part of the reasons why becoming a medical assistant may be the right career path for you. If you look into your local vocational college, your next career may be right around the corner.

Did learning about EKGs interest you? Ready for an exciting new career in the medical assisting field? PCI Health Training Center’s Medical Assistant programs prepares a graduate to work as an entry-level Medical Assistant. Within this general career category there are several specialty areas, including Medical Administrative Office Assistant, Clinic Assistant, Clinic Tech, Medical Office Manager, Phlebotomist, Physical Therapy Aide in a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital out-patient clinic.

Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a medical assistant and start a rewarding career today.

**PCI firmly upholds its policy of nondiscrimination. Inquiries regarding policy may be directed to TitleIXCoordinator@pcihealth.com.

For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who complete the program, and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information.