Preparing for a medical laboratory test is critical for accurate test results. Timing, the food you eat, and alcohol, tobacco, and medication use can all affect results. Proper specimen collection, handling and transport also ensure the quality of test results.
Download these questions from www.acmlt.org (use keywords: public, health tips).
When your doctor orders a test for you, begin by asking questions. Look carefully at the information on the back of the laboratory requisition form. Remember, you want to understand the reasons for and to prepare properly for the test. Although lab staff can tell you how to get ready for the test, they cannot advise on how the results may affect you. Only your doctor can diagnose medical conditions, and recommend treatment options.
Check your laboratory requisition form as well. Are your name, address and personal information right? Is there more than one test indicated on the requisition? What is the name of the test? Do you need an appointment to have it done?
One more thing – do you have your current provincial health insurance card?
Recommended procedures have been developed through repeated testing. Check with your doctor or the staff at the collection site that will take your sample to make sure you have all necessary supplies and instructions. Some tests need little preparation, while others require planning. Be sure you understand what you need to prepare for your test. Details are important.
Carefully and completely follow instructions about eating, drinking, smoking, alcohol, and medication use. For instance the occult blood test, which looks for blood in stool, has rules about food and medication use before and during testing. To ensure sample quality, produce accurate test results, and avoid another test, you must follow the guidelines.
Your sample may be taken at a collection site – a clinic, laboratory, hospital, or mobile vehicle. Before the test, you will be asked for health and personal information, including your provincial heath insurance number. This number is used to identify patients by confirming the correct spelling of your legal name. It also verifies the personal health number on your card is the same as the one on the laboratory requisition form. Finally, it confirms your gender and date of birth.
You may need to provide the following information.
Some laboratory tests need you to fast to get accurate results. The length of time you must fast varies from 8 to 12 hours, depending upon the test.
Fasting means that you must not have anything to eat, drink, smoke or chew. This includes coffee, juice, tea, alcohol, chewing gum, candy, lozenges, and tobacco. Water may be allowed, but no more than usual. For some tests, you must not drink alcohol for 24 hours prior to the test. Talk with your doctor to see if you must stop taking any medications. It is important to check if you are in doubt.
Ask if you need an appointment for the fasting test. Some tests can take between two and four hours to complete, as you will be given a drink and then have blood samples taken later.
To make sure you are not inconvenienced, prepare properly for a fasting test. Laboratory staff are strict in enforcing fasting requirements to make sure test results are accurate.
If you have not followed the instructions, you may have to reschedule.
Medical laboratory tests provide valuable information used by doctors to monitor your health, diagnose, and treat illness. Laboratory tests can screen for possible risks to your health long before symptoms appear. Tests can help pinpoint a correct diagnosis when symptoms of a condition have not necessarily developed.
Early diagnosis defends your health. Results of medical laboratory tests can identify the presence of disease in its earliest stages, when the possibilities of a cure are greatest, and when treatment is least costly. Although it takes effort to get ready for these tests, the steps are necessary to ensure that the test is accurate.
Be sure to discuss all laboratory tests with your doctor. Understand why the test is necessary, what the results could indicate, and what treatment might be suggested. By seeing your doctor and completing any requested laboratory tests, you help safeguard your own health and well-being.