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  • Writer's pictureJaileen Hillard, RN

Routine Laboratory Tests: What They Are and Why They’re Important?

Routine blood testing is one way to keep track of your overall health and tell your provider what is happening inside your body. Getting tested routinely can help you prevent chronic illness by early detection or reduce the chances of disease progression by routine monitoring.

What Do Blood Tests Show?

Blood tests can help your healthcare provider determine how different organs in your body are working, including your kidneys, liver, heart, etc. Blood tests can also help determine if you are at risk for diseases such as:

Blood tests may also show whether your current treatment regimens are working for you or need adjustments.

What Are The Five Most Common Blood Tests?

The most common blood tests ordered in healthcare are:

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC) – This test measures different parts of your blood, including red and white blood cells, platelets, and hemoglobin.

  • Complete Metabolic Panel (CMP) – This group of tests measures certain chemicals in your blood, including sodium, glucose (blood sugar), chloride, potassium, calcium, carbon dioxide, protein levels, and kidney and liver function.

  • Hemoglobin A1c (HgA1c) – This simple blood test measures your average blood sugar levels over the past three months.

  • Lipid panel – This test measures two types of cholesterol in your body (i.e., the good and bad cholesterol).

  • Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) – This test measures the amount of thyroid-stimulating hormone circulating in the blood.

Are There Other Test Types Besides Blood?

Standard lab tests include urine, stool, saliva, and body tissue samples. These tests are used for providers to work up, rule out, or diagnose medical conditions. These conditions include but are not limited to:

  • Urinary tract infections

  • Sexually Transmitted Disease

  • Pregnancy Testing

  • Soft tissue or skin infections

  • Sensitivity testing

  • Drug testing

Tests like the above can be collected in the clinic, home, or laboratory testing centers.

How Often Should Lab Tests Be Ordered?

Depending on your current disease state, illness, or follow-up, your provider will determine the frequency of labs required. For some people, lab tests are needed monthly; for others, they may be every three months or annually. Upon initial consultation, your healthcare provider may recommend baseline laboratory work and order follow-up tests to confirm abnormal levels or add-on tests to help with a potential medical diagnosis based on the initial results.

Where Can You Get Labs Done?

Common testing centers in Albuquerque, NM, include Quest, Tricore, and Southwest Labs. However, it is essential to clarify whether walk-in is available at these locations as some appointments may be required.

At Reform ABQ, we strive for continuity of care. Because of this, labs can be drawn on-site during appointment times for our patients. This allows the clinic to ensure that labs are drawn and gives the patient peace of mind for timesaving and cost of care.

How Long Do Results Take?

Test results can take 24-48 hours during business days. However, depending on the type of test performed and where it is sent, the total amount of time varies. With many centers running tests for most of the state, testing times can be impacted. Laboratory testing should not exceed two weeks duration.

Additionally, specific tests require bacteria growth, are more sensitive to rare markers in the blood, may be contaminated, or blood cells may be destroyed during the drawing process. If you have concerns regarding the wait time for your results, don't hesitate to contact your clinic for further information.

What Is The Typical Procedure?

No one looks forward to getting their blood drawn, but the procedure is usually brief and relatively painless. Most people are in and out of the lab room in under 15 minutes. The staff will begin by examining and gently pressing their fingers against your skin to locate the best vein. Then they will place a clean pair of gloves, clean the area with an alcohol pad, tie a tourniquet around your upper arm to increase blood flow, insert the needle and collect the needed samples.

After the blood draw, staff will remove the needle and apply pressure to the puncture site, which will help with post-procedure bruising. However, minor bruising and swelling around the puncture site can occur even with these precautions. If you do bruise, it should go away within a few days.

Your healthcare provider's goal is to keep you healthy; preventive care and follow-up play a key role in protecting your health. One way to do this is through laboratory testing. By running lab tests, your provider can make and monitor changes over time.

If you think you are in need of primary care services, or a routine physical schedule a consultation with Reform ABQ today!

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