Monday, 10 September 2007

Sunday Seven: Seven tips for trusting lab results

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What if the lab results thought to be our own really were not? Hey, mistakes happen in all walks of life. And labs are not immune. But there are a few steps we can take to protect ourselves. Here they are:
  • Ask your doctor about the lab he or she uses. It should be accredited and approved by the College of American Pathologists, a sign the lab meets high standards.

  • If you can see the test tube or slide, make sure your name is on it. If you are in the hospital, make sure your wristband is accurate.

  • If test results surprise you, ask your doctor about them. If the doctor didn't expect the result either, maybe it's worth investigating or at minimum, repeating the test.

  • Get a copy of all lab results and reports. Patients have a right to these.

  • Take your slides to a specialist. If you've had a skin biopsy, for example, you'll improve your odds of a good diagnosis if a dermatologist sees it.

  • Document all lab work done. Include dates, times, what type of test is being run, and an area to record results. If you notice one day you never found out the result of a Pap test, for instance, give your doctor a follow-up call.

  • And finally, don't be afraid to ask questions of the medical professionals in your life. If you don't understand something, ask about it. If you think something is not right, ask about it. It's no fun to be in the dark -- so make sure you're not.
Source: Good Housekeeping, July 2007
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