Today, the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) announced measures that Canadians can take to ensure that their laboratory test results are accurate. Steven Fletcher, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and a team of medical laboratory professionals, were on hand for the announcement at the Ottawa General Hospital’s new biochemistry and hematology laboratory.
Kurt Davis, CSMLS Executive Director, said that there is a direct link between a patient’s proper preparation for a laboratory test and his or her likelihood of receiving accurate and speedy diagnosis of the illness.
“Canadians need to know that even small things like chewing gum or smoking before a test could impact their test results,” said Davis. “Since up to 85 per cent of decisions about diagnosis and treatment are based on laboratory test results, it is in the patient’s best interest to take the necessary steps to ensure that the test results are accurate.”
Medical laboratory tests, performed by certified medical laboratory professionals, range from throat swabs to blood tests to biopsies. According to CSMLS, medications, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, food intake and exercise can affect laboratory test results.
Robin Power, a certified medical laboratory technologist and President of CSMLS, said that preparing for a test is the most important step a patient can take regarding diagnosis. “Canadians need to know how critical lab tests are to their health,” said Power. “An inaccurate test result, based on a patient’s poor preparation, could lead to misinterpretation of the illness and ultimately delay proper treatment.”
The Society highly recommends that Canadians follow the Lab Test Checklist available on the CSMLS website, www.csmls.org, before going in for a lab test. The Checklist provides questions to ask one’s doctor and medical lab professional before a test is conducted. Examples of questions include asking what kind of information the test will provide, what needs to be done to prepare for the test, and what time is best for collection.
“In a time when wait times are such a crucial issue in our hospitals,” said Davis, “preparing effectively for lab tests is at least one important step Canadians can take to ensure proper and timely diagnosis and treatment.”