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Understanding Therapeutic Phlebotomy

Therapeutic phlebotomy is a blood draw procedure done to treat a disease. It is also called bloodletting. During this procedure, you will have a pint or more of blood drawn.

Here is what you should know

  • Your healthcare provider has requested this blood draw procedure.

  • Therapeutic phlebotomy is safe and simple. It is similar to a regular blood donation.

  • This procedure takes about an hour. Please be prepared to confirm your name and Social Security number before the procedure.

  • Before your blood is collected, your pulse, blood pressure, and general health will be checked. It helps if you drink plenty of fluids and eat a good meal a few hours before the procedure.

  • Your healthcare provider will collect a pint of blood (500 mL) from a vein in your arm. In rare cases, 2 pints might be collected. Each blood pint is replaced with fluids (either through your vein or by mouth) during the collection procedure.

  • The blood is then discarded.

  • In general, this procedure carries the same possible risks as with any blood donation such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fainting, bruising at the site, seizures, or infection.

After the procedure


  • Eat and drink something before leaving the clinic.

  • Wait to leave until the nurse says it’s OK.

  • Drink more fluids than usual in the next 4 hours.

  • If there is bleeding from the site of the blood draw, raise your arm and apply pressure to the area.

  • If symptoms persist, call your healthcare provider or go to the ER after regular business hours.


  • Don’t smoke for at least an hour.

  • Don’t drink alcohol 24 hours before your procedure or after the procedure until you have eaten.

  • Don’t operate heavy machinery or work standing on a ladder or other high surface right after the procedure.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 6/1/2017
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