Lonnie Harris and Tyler Allen, phlebotomists in South Georgia Medical Center’s Emergency Department were named Hospital Heroes at the Hospital Authority of Valdosta Lowndes County GA Board of Directors meeting on Wednesday. In an effort to improve lab specimen collection in the ED, Interim Administrative Director of Laboratory Services Ron Riffle employed Harris and Allen as full-time phlebotomists to strictly serve patients in that department. Phlebotomists are medical technicians specially trained to draw blood from a patient’s body as a tool to help health care professionals reach a medical analysis. Since they began in July, issues with problematic blood cultures have been reduced to 1.1 percent, well below The Joint Commission quality standard of less than or equal to 3 percent. The time between physician orders and collection has also decreased by an average of 50 minutes. Additionally, reports show a 50 percent reduction in recollection rates from clotted, hemolyzed, or quantity not sufficient specimens. “This has a positive impact on patient care by reducing the time a patient spends in the ED,” said Chief Operating Officer Heath Evans. “This is one of many changes being made to improve the emergency department experience at SGMC.”Leadership also shared that there have been multiple occasions where patients have praised Harris and Allen for their compassion and skills.According to the Journal of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, emergency departments are systems particularly susceptible to a high burden of contaminated blood cultures due to the need to collect cultures in critically ill patients prior to resuscitation and the time pressure of obtaining cultures before the first dose of antibiotics.Pictured: SGMC Interim Administrative Director of Laboratory Services Ron Riffle, Phlebotomists Tyler Allen and Lonnie Harris, and SGMC COO Heath Evans.