Let out the blood
- By: Randolph MacGregor
For hundreds of years doctors believed in the maxim “Let out the blood; let out the disease.” Although this practice has long since been discredited, the taking of blood is essential for a plethora of modern investigations.
Having gained competence in venepuncture on a prosthetic arm, a medical student can move on to real patients. This seminal moment in a medical student’s career can be among the most stressful and the most rewarding. I recall locating the bounce of a vein for the first time, anxiously waiting to see the jet of dark red flow into the test tube and then the sense of relief as I returned to the workstation to label the still warm tubes of blood.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the attitude to medical students performing venepuncture has changed over the years in the United Kingdom. In the past, medical students would have been expected to take