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Preparing for Lab Work

Having a lab procedure performed can be intimidating. See below on how to prepare and what to expect with each laboratory collection.

How to Prepare

Before your test, it’s important to know if you need to follow special instructions before the collection process. Tell your doctor about any medications you’re taking, including prescriptions and vitamins or supplements. The way you prepare for a lab test depends on the type of test. Ask your provider how to prepare and make sure to follow instructions. For some tests, exercise, dehydration, eating and other activities can affect your results.

What to Expect

Blood Collection - A phlebotomist will use a needle to take a sample of blood. In most cases, the sample is taken from a vein in your arm. The phlebotomist will wrap a rubber band or tourniquet around your arm, feel to locate a vein, and insert the needle. You might feel a small prick or stinging sensation when the needle is inserted. After the phlebotomist has obtained the correct volume of blood, they will take the needle out and place a bandage. Press firmly on the site to stop bleeding. Apply a cloth-covered ice pack to your arm or hand if you have soreness or bruising at the puncture site. Your sample will be routed to a lab for testing.

Urine Collection - A urine collection cup and cleansing wipe will be provided with instructions on how to collect the sample. It is helpful to arrive to your appointment with a partial or full bladder to ensure an adequate amount of urine is able to be collected.

Test Results

Your test results will be shared with your provider. They can provide additional consult and discuss treatment options or next steps in your care. For most tests performed in our laboratories, results will be available within 24-48 hours after your specimen is received. Some specimens are sent to an outside reference laboratory for testing. These tests may take up to a week to receive results. Your lab results can be viewed in your online MyChart Patient Portal.

Additional Resources

Resources to Help Understand Lab Results - ASCP Patient Champions


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