(From Dr. Bill Kose with Blanchard Valley Health System)
Healthcare providers routinely order laboratory testing to help determine how to treat their patients. We want to take this opportunity to remind you not only that it’s important to get testing when it’s recommended but also that there are steps you can take to help make the process go more smoothly.
After the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals have fallen behind on routine appointments and other regular healthcare. If you are not yet caught up on your laboratory tests, we urge you to sooner rather than later to ensure that any problems the lab tests identify can be dealt with promptly.
Your primary care provider can help you determine which tests you should have routinely. Generally, standard recommendations are based on an individual’s age and gender. However, the recommendations may vary depending on your specific situation, such as if there is a family history of a certain condition.
If you see a healthcare provider when you are ill, follow through on any requested tests. Keep in mind that your provider may take action, such as adjusting your medication, based on what the lab results reveal, so it’s best to have accurate information as soon as you can.
If you don’t understand why a certain test is recommended, ask your provider. Patients who better understand their health situation may feel better equipped to make healthier decisions. Also, the associates at the laboratory have expertise in performing the lab work, but the provider who ordered the testing will have more context as to why he or she recommended it specifically for you.
Ask your provider how to prepare for lab work, particularly if you need to fast beforehand. Eating too soon before some tests may make it impossible to get accurate results, and you may be asked to come back at another time.
Additionally, if you have received a laboratory order on a piece of paper, bring it to the lab. That way you, your physician, and the team at the laboratory all have the same information.
Blanchard Valley Health System offers several locations to get laboratory work done, so seek out testing wherever is most convenient for you. While many people come to the Center for Diagnostic Studies at the main campus of Blanchard Valley Hospital, we also offer lab testing at EasternWoods Outpatient Center, Bluffton Hospital, Carey Diagnostic Center, and Ottawa Medical & Diagnostic Center.
BVHS is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, which expands our testing capabilities. There are thousands of possible laboratory tests a provider could order, some of which are rarely needed. If BVHS does not offer a particular test, we can work with Mayo Clinic and its laboratory program to help patients obtain it.
Following laboratory testing, we encourage you to sit down for a discussion with your provider. Make sure you understand the information and ask questions if you do not. Remember that some tests may decisively indicate a particular condition. In contrast, others may help identify a trend or the beginnings of a problem that should be addressed before it becomes more serious. There is an increased interest in some types of genetic testing, and those tests may indicate not that an individual will definitely develop a certain disease but simply that the probability is higher. Make sure you understand what your specific test results mean and what steps you should take to address them.
Finally, we want the community to rest assured that our laboratories are held to very strict standards to ensure the accuracy of test results. We at BVHS are committed to encouraging young people to pursue careers in healthcare, and there is a growing need for medical professionals throughout the laboratory field. As science continues to evolve, these opportunities will only grow.
William Kose, MD, JD Vice President of Special Projects, Blanchard Valley Health System