July 18, 2022
Lab tests are the backbone for modern healthcare. With nearly 14 billion tests ordered annually and 70% of medical decisions relying on lab tests, they’re a critical component of everything from diagnosis, treatment, to prevention. However, despite their prevalence, many of us outside the medical field are not familiar with some of the basics around lab tests, what they are, and what can impact lab results.
In this article, we will review lab tests and help you to understand their results.
Lab tests check a sample of fluid from your body, such as blood or urine, and analyze it to see if it falls within the normal testing range, which differs depending on what the specific test is for. Blood tests are the most common form of lab tests. This is because they can reveal so much information about your body. For example, a blood test can show:
You can have a lab test taken at your local department of health, hospital, your doctor’s office, or a walk-in lab, or you can buy lab tests online.
Sometimes, a doctor or clinician may recommend a lab test, at other times, you may feel you need one because you have been experiencing certain symptoms or generally not feeling up to par. These are times when you should consider getting a lab test:
Turnaround time will vary depending on a number of factors, such as:
Typically it can take 3-5 business days for lab test results, but in some cases, it may be longer. You can get your results from the lab, your doctor, or your laboratory's patient portal where all your electronic health records (EHRs) are stored.
As well as a specific reading of your results, you may also see one of the following terms.
This means that the test found traces of the substance or disease in your blood. You should now make a follow-up appointment with your healthcare provider so that they can explain the next steps you should think about taking. You may, in some instances, need a second test to confirm positivity.
If your test result is negative, this means that no traces of the substance or disease was found in your blood. While this may be good news, in some cases, your doctor may recommend a secondary test to eliminate a false-negative result.
If your test result is inconclusive or uncertain, this means that there were insufficient findings in the results to either diagnose or rule out a disease. If you get an inconclusive result your doctor will almost certainly recommend further tests.
If you have a false-positive result, this means that the test indicates that you have a condition, but in actual fact, you do not.
If you have a false negative result, this means that the test indicates that you do not have a condition, but in actual fact, you do.
Incorrect tests are not common, but they occur more frequently with certain types of tests, or if there has been an error at the lab. In some multiple tests are needed for a certain diagnosis.
When you receive your lab results, you may notice that you are shown as a series of numbers. This is known as a reference range. Reference ranges vary widely depending on the type of test and what’s being measured.
Typically, the reference range will show values for what is called the normal range, or normal values. A given reference range is based on normal test results of a large test group of healthy people. It allows doctors to know what a healthy test result should look like.
For example, if you have had a cholesterol book test, you may see something like this in your results:
LDL: less than 100 mg/dL
HDL: 40 to 60 mg/dL
Total cholesterol: less than 200 mg/dL
If your number is outside of the reference range, you have abnormal results, which means your level is too low or too high, your doctor will be able to explain what this means.
Numerous factors can affect the accuracy of your blood test results. These include:
As you can see, lab tests, particularly blood tests, are an important part of maintaining wellness, diagnosing illness, and monitoring treatment. One of the easiest and most private ways to have a lab test is through a mobile lab like Getlabs.
Simply book an appointment online. We send a phlebotomist to your home. They take your sample and take it to a local clinical laboratory, and you wait for your laboratory results. It really is that simple, that’s why people love our service so much. We offer over 5,000 laboratory tests and can provide full health information.
This page is provided for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute the provision of medical advice or professional services. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, and those seeking personal medical advice regarding any of the tests and conditions referenced above are advised to consult with a licensed clinician. Always seek the advice of your qualified health provider regarding a medical condition and do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information on this page. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or go to the nearest urgent care center or hospital.
Getlabs sends a nearby medical specialist to you to collect your labs for Labcorp and Quest. Available same-day, nationwide.