Getting Technical Now

I’ll be describing one of my lab orders for blood and urine tests to be performed after a 24 hour urine collection in the next couple of blogs. That means the next few blogs are going to become  progressively more technical although not especially in today’s blog.  I won’t be including the personal, nephrologist and laboratory information that is usually included on the top of the script for these tests due to privacy issues.

When I first looked at my own lab orders, all I saw was numbers, numbers, numbers, especially since the words didn’t mean anything to me. I asked the nurse what they meant and she started to explain, but we were interrupted every few minutes by other nurses, doctors or patients. I realized this was not going to be a five minute conversation. “Thanks, anyway,” I concluded the conversation, “I can look it up at home.” She did a double take and asked if I were sure I wanted to do that. In my ignorance, I assured her it was fine. This was clearly another case of not understanding what was involved in looking it up.


The Top Section

On the top left of the script (short hand, in this case, for laboratory work order), my doctor’s medical assistant had hand written the following, “Do this 2 wks. prior to Dec. appt.” That was to be my next six month appointment. Interesting tidbit: the first nephrologist felt I should be seen in the office once a year, the second – and present – one felt six month visits would be a better option for me. Different doctors – different orders.

 The two weeks mentioned seemed excessively early until a lab lost my specimens and the tests had to be repeated. I was lucky enough to receive a call from the nephrologist’s office asking if I’d had the tests since they hadn’t received the results and I had an appointment in one week.  With the explosion of Chronic Kidney Disease in the last decade, there’s no guarantee that your doctor’s office will have the time to offer this courtesy. Call to make certain your lab results have been received a week or so before your appointment to prevent wasting your time and that of your doctor.

After many frustrating calls to the lab, their manager, their co-coordinator, and anyone else that might have been of help, it was determined that yes, indeed, the specimens – not the results, but the specimens – had been lost. I haven’t been back to that particular very busy lab site since. 

Another time, the specimens were located, but the results had been sent to the wrong doctor, someone I’d never heard of who is probably still wondering why this new patient never made an appointment.  I didn’t go back to this lab site, either.

I’ve found a small office of the same lab that never seems to be all that busy which makes me feel the specimens and the results will be well looked after. This may not be true at all, but I like the psychological comfort it gives me.

On the right side of the script, above the diagnosis codes, the word “No” written underneath “FASTING.”  That was unlike my quarterly liver function blood test which was fasting, and has since been changed to “Yes,” meaning nothing to eat or drink after midnight the day before your blood test. If you need lab tests from different doctors for different purposes, read the script that you’ll be bringing to the lab the day before so you know whether or not to fast.

In my case, my medications would not change the test results so it was all right to take them the morning of the test. That’s not true in all cases.  Ask your doctor when you’re given your script if fasting includes your meds (medications).

Get ready for the even more technical information on your script.  That’s what you’ll be seeing in Friday’s blog.  You’re handed the script and take these tests once or twice a year, so you might as well understand what these tests are and why you need them. 

Until then,

Keep living!

Published in: on October 26, 2010 at 8:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

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