What is Therapeutic Phlebotomy?
A therapeutic phlebotomy is a prescribed amount of blood withdrawn for medical reasons. There must be a written order from the patient’s physician specifying the date and the amount of blood to be drawn.
The frequency of bleeding and a hemoglobin or hematocrit level at which the patient should be bled is required for a Standing Order Therapeutic Phlebotomy.
What diseases are treated with Therapeutic Phlebotomy?
- Hemochromatosis – a disorder of the way the body uses iron. The body absorbs too much of the iron found in the foods we eat. This extra iron is stored in the body, mainly in the liver, pancreas and skin, which leads to cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes, enlarged heart with congestive heart failure, irregular heart beat and increased skin pigmentation.
- Polycythemia – an increase in the number of circulating red blood cells and total blood volume.
- Porphyries – metabolic disorders associated with hepatosplenomegaly (enlargement of the spleen and liver), photosensitivity (sensitivity to light), pigmentation and distinct red color in the urine.
How often can Therapeutic Phlebotomies be performed?
As often as every few days may be needed to improve the symptoms of the blood disorder. Phlebotomies may be scheduled on a regular basis, such as monthly, or as needed in response to the symptoms of the disease after the initial desired results are reached.
What are the requirements for Therapeutic Phlebotomy?
A physician order including the amount of blood to be withdrawn, the frequency of donation, and the desired hemoglobin level are required. A health history and mini-physical are done, and consent for phlebotomy is given.
- Note: The maximum amount of blood to be removed in a 24-hour period is 500 mL or 10% of the patient’s blood volume, whichever is less.
- Note: A signed Request for Therapeutic Phlebotomy form must be signed by the patient prior to treatment.