Understanding Updated Phlebotomy Tube Color Chart and Test Associations

For healthcare professionals, mastering the use of the updated phlebotomy tube color chart and executing proper blood-drawing techniques is essential. This knowledge ensures accurate test results, improves patient care, and enhances overall outcomes. This guide provides a comprehensive understanding of the diverse colors associated with tubes used in blood sample collection, aiding in error reduction and promoting precision during collection processes.

Key Takeaways

  • Phlebotomy tube colors are used to identify the type of anticoagulant present and whether a separator gel is included.
  • Proper blood collection techniques involve securing a tourniquet, using gloves, mixing anticoagulants gently, and more.
  • An updated phlebotomy tube color chart provides comprehensive information on roles, additives, and test associations for various tubes. Proper order of draw must be followed to prevent cross-contamination and ensure accurate results.
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Overview of Phlebotomy Tube Colors and Their Functions

To assess blood specimens accurately, healthcare professionals depend on the color-coded rubber stoppers of collection tubes for easy identification. These tubes, measuring between 75 mm and 100 mm in length with a diameter of 13 mm, are constructed from either glass or plastic, chosen based on the specific test requirements.

Glass tubes contribute to more precise clotting on their interior surfaces. Blood comprises various cell types, including erythrocytes (red), leukocytes (white), and thrombocytes (platelets). The different colors of these tubes indicate the presence of specific anticoagulants, influencing analysis results based on their varied reactions with tube additives.

Achieving accurate data necessitates a comprehensive understanding of the interrelation of components within our body and ensures proper handling during the specimen’s preparation phase.

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Importance of Proper Blood Collection Techniques

To ensure accurate laboratory results, the proper use of blood collection tubes is necessary. These include tube walls, rubber stoppers, lubricants, anticoagulants, and separator gels along with clot activators as well as SFs. Incorrect handling or usage can lead to interference in test outcomes which will consequently decrease effectiveness for labs while increasing the cost of retesting due to faulty first tests.

To help blood flow, a tourniquet is used before removing the needle. Safety measures are taken at the puncture site, like redrawing and wearing gloves for both the phlebotomist and patient. Tubes with anticoagulants should be gently mixed 4-6 times to avoid potential inaccuracies during testing at laboratories. To prevent issues like frothing or hematoma, it’s important not to use a tight tourniquet for too long or clench the fist during the process. Avoiding these errors improves the accuracy of test results.

Updated Phlebotomy Tube Color Chart

A comprehensive look into the roles, additives, and test associations of different colored phlebotomy tubes can be found by consulting an updated color chart. All essential information regarding each tube type is thoroughly discussed in its succeeding sections. It’s a valuable resource to help us better understand their specific uses and functions related to clinical lab tests.

Yellow Tubes

In the case of blood collection and testing, yellow tubes are indispensable as they contain Acid Citrate Dextrose which assists in staving off clotting whilst keeping its quality intact.

This type of tube is used for tests or procedures where a specimen like whole blood/plasma will be taken, including genetic assessment along with other laboratory examinations that demand such specimens.

Light Blue Tubes

The preferred color for coagulation testing is light blue, and this color indicates the presence of sodium citrate, which helps prevent clotting. Sodium citrate works by binding with calcium, preserving the quality of the blood samples being tested. To ensure reliable test results, it is crucial to maintain a ratio of 1:9 (citrate to blood) when conducting tests using these tubes.

Red and Gold Tubes

Rapid serum tubes, also known as red and gold tubes, are critical for the collection of blood samples used in laboratory tests. These specimens include separator tubes with clot activators such as silica or thrombin to provide a dense solidification structure quickly.

Using these vessels for blood extraction may pose challenges. Insufficient clotting can lead to the formation of fibrin after centrifugation, potentially interfering with pipetting accuracy or immunoassays and yielding inaccurate results. Full clotting usually takes about thirty minutes, causing delays in testing completion timeframes.

Specialized Tubes and Their Uses

Aside from the regular colors of tubes, specialized phlebotomy tubes tailored to specific lab tests come in other hues such as royal blue, gray, and lavender. These different types are equipped with additives that meet particular testing needs.

Royal Blue Tubes

Trace element analysis, toxicology screens, nutritional studies, and therapeutic drug monitoring can all be accurately performed using the royal blue test tubes due to their lack of additives. Also, they are great for detecting certain trace elements as well as drugs in a specific level of concentration. No matter what testing is required, these tubers provide precise results without fail.

Gray Tubes

Gray tubes are commonly employed for glucose and lactate testing, especially when timely delivery to the laboratory is crucial. The tube contains sodium fluoride and potassium oxalate, acting as anticoagulants and preservatives. These components inhibit ex vivo sugar consumption, preventing interference from the enolase enzyme in specimens.

Gray-top samples remain stable for up to 8 hours at room temperature when measuring lactic acid levels, and their shelf life extends up to 24 hours. This makes them an excellent choice for quickly evaluating blood sugar levels and obtaining accurate results.

Lavender Tubes

Blood samples for hematology (CBC), specific chemistry, and blood bank testing are collected using special tubes known as lavender or purple top tubes. These tubes contain EDTA, an anticoagulant that prevents clot formation in the bloodstream. It is crucial to fill these tubes correctly to achieve a suitable proportion between red cells and the anticoagulant. Overfilling or underfilling can negatively impact their effectiveness, emphasizing the importance of ensuring accurate proportions during the collection process.

Order of Draw: Why It Matters

Blood collection needs to be done in the correct sequence for proper results. If not, additives from one tube can enter another and cause erroneous test outcomes. The Clinical Laboratory Standards Institute has outlined an order of draw that should always be observed when taking blood samples.

The sequence for drawing blood samples follows a specific order for various tests. Firstly, blood cultures are collected for microbiology testing. Next is the royal blue-topped vial, followed by light blue-topped tubes designed for coagulation tests. Serum-generating containers are fourth, with heparinized plasma in the fifth position, and EDTA/fluoridated tubes in the sixth. Adhering to this carefully developed protocol ensures the accurate analysis of any given sample set.

Tips for Proper Blood Collection and Handling

Ensuring a successful and secure blood drawing experience involves employing proper techniques. Begin by using a 70% isopropyl alcohol swab to disinfect the puncture site before drawing any liquid sample. Additionally, gauze sponges can provide protection at these sites when needles are involved in medical procedures.

It’s important to change them regularly and adhere to essential safety precautions, such as wiping down tourniquets with ethanol solutions. Finally, for the safety of both the patient and the practitioner, contaminated materials like needles should be promptly disposed of using properly arranged disposal units.

Common Preanalytical Errors and How to Avoid Them

Healthcare professionals can ensure accurate test results and enhance patient care by adhering to certain procedures during blood collection. This includes disposing of needles after each use, as well as using Povidone-iodine wipes or swabs for collecting cultures from the bloodstream.

Preanalytical errors such as hemolysis, lipemia, and icterus are likely to be less frequent with these guidelines in place. By properly following all safety measures related to phlebotomy protocols, it is possible to minimize any preanalytic mistakes that could interfere with laboratory outcomes on tests conducted via drawn samples of a patient’s blood.

The Role of Technology in Modern Phlebotomy

Innovations in technology have significantly changed the way phlebotomy is performed, improving both precision and speed of blood-taking.

A noteworthy innovation is the PIVO system which has made a great impact on healthcare teams by allowing better venous access for IV insertion or obtaining samples through vein puncture especially when it comes to patients with difficult vascular anatomy.

Another remarkable development is the introduction of an automated station designed to draw blood without human assistance which makes collection faster with safety as a priority. There are software such as home collection software and donor management systems aimed at simplifying these processes whilst ensuring accuracy in testing results every time.


It is the duty of healthcare professionals to keep up-to-date on phlebotomy tube color chart and test association, in order to ensure precise blood collection techniques for optimal patient care. This guide provides insight into different colors used within this field and their essential purpose, all while helping reduce human errors throughout both sample handling and laboratory processes.

By assimilating this information into your current practice, you can foster an improved level of patient outcomes alongside efficient lab practices, leading ultimately towards better overall healthcare experiences.

Further Reading

Frequently Asked Questions

What tests go in what color tubes?

For CBC tests, lavender tubes are required. While ALT (GPT), Amylase, and Hgb/Hct use the same types of containers; green SST or plain red. When collecting specimens for a Basic Metabolic Panel and Tegretol (CRBAM) analysis, it is necessary to employ either green SST or ordinary red cylinders. PT & INR analyses need blue receptacles instead.

What is the order of draw for phlebotomy tubes?

The appropriate sequence for drawing blood samples in a phlebotomy procedure is to start with the collection of the culture sample, followed by filling up a tube containing sodium citrate (with a blue cap), then taking serum tubes either equipped or not equipped with clot activator and gel material (such as those having red, gold and speckled tops).

Why are test tubes different colors?

Test tubes are different colors to indicate specific additives – red for anticoagulants, gold for clot activator and gel, green for requesting immediate blood chemistry results, and grey for containing potassium oxalate to bind calcium.

Each of these additives is necessary for proper testing.

What is the significance of color coding in blood collection tubes?

Color-coding of blood collection tubes is a useful resource to healthcare providers, which helps them distinguish the functions and content of each tube efficiently while dealing with blood specimens. This aid allows for quicker identification when collecting samples in order to handle them properly.

What are some common preanalytical errors in phlebotomy, and how can they be avoided?

To avoid preanalytical errors like hemolysis, lipemia, and icterus during phlebotomy, needles should be discarded straight away while blood cultures are collected with the help of Povidone-iodine swabs or wipes.