Friday, March 21, 2008

Lab tests: case


A middle-aged woman makes an appointment to see me. She has been feeling very tired lately and has an assortment of aches and pains and her GP has ordered several tests in the hopes of zeroing in on a diagnosis. She would like to know exactly what is being tested for. I do not get the impression that she is likely to jump to conclusions regarding her diagnosis. It seems rather that she is curious about the process and wishing to be an active participant.


The woman has a computer at home with Internet access, and often searches for health information online, so I give her a tour of Lab Tests Online (HONcode accredited) so that she can look up each of the tests on her own at her leisure.

This is one of my favourite resources. You can type in keyword or look up the test alphabetically by name. You can also select a disease or condition to see which tests are typically used in diagnosis or monitoring, or by age group to see what screening tests are routinely ordered.

The reason I like the site so much is that it gives a very comprehensive overview of each test, why it is ordered, how it is done, what is being tested, and in addition to that, information about the disease or condition is provided (signs and symptoms, treatments, other tests), along with answers to common questions specific to each test (such as: how will exercise or diet affect the element being tested, what other tests might be given for the same condition etc.), and links to other relevant resources. Any question that remains unanswered can be asked by following the link to a confidential request form on the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science website, which is then answered by a certified clinical laboratory scientist.

No comments: