Laboratory Services and Procedures
The Laboratory Department at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) uses sophisticated equipment to examine and analyze patient cells and body fluids. Services include testing chemical and hormonal contents in biological samples, examining and identifying bacteria and other microorganisms, determining cholesterol and blood glucose levels and preparing blood for transfusions.
The information provided below includes general instructions for tests at PAMF laboratories.
You should always follow the instructions of your physician or the lab that you are visiting. Instructions may vary.
In order to provide the highest quality of service, there are certain procedures that we follow:
- You will be asked to verify your name and birth date before your blood is drawn. This is necessary because there may be more than one person with the same name in our computer system.
- If information on the requisition is incomplete or missing, we may need to call the doctor's office to obtain the necessary information. This may result in a delay in processing your orders.
- We usually serve people in the order they arrive at the laboratory. However if a "STAT" (immediate) test or a specific time-interval test is ordered by a physician, this person will be taken out of order.
- Prothrombin Times may be drawn anytime during the day between 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
- To assure accurate test results, some tests require that you do not eat or drink anything for 12 hours prior to having your blood drawn. This is important when checking a full lipid profile (triglyceride, cholesterol, cholesterol "types" or glucose levels). You may drink a small amount (1 cup or less) of water, tea or coffee. Do NOT use sugar or milk/cream of any kind when fasting blood work is ordered. Total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol do not require fasting and may be drawn any time of the day.
- Each test requires a certain amount of blood for the test results to be accurate. We only draw the amount needed for the tests ordered by your doctor.
- Some tests, such as glucose tolerance, will require that you remain in the laboratory area for an extended period of time. Special patient instructions are available in the laboratory.
- By federal mandate, we may perform only those tests your physician has ordered and that are medically necessary. If you have questions about your tests, please ask your doctor.
- You will be asked to apply pressure to the puncture site and stay in the waiting area until the phlebotomist makes sure all signs of bleeding have stopped and a bandage has been applied.
- Most test results are available to you from your physician within three to five working days. If you have questions about your lab results, please call your doctor.
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