Thursday, January 14, 2016

Blood Trails

Blood Trails:
 Follow your medical lab work from beginning to end with everything that can go wrong in between
By Ralph Giorno, MD
Published by, 2015

If you have any interest in health care in general, or any form of disease or illness, it is well worth reading this book. We take what happens to specimens of blood, urine etc for granted, assuming the samples will be properly taken at the correct time, handled appropriately and that the tests will be done in such a way that accurate and reliable results will be generated. Sadly, however, this is not necessarily the case and patients need to be aware of what can go wrong in order to ensure that it does not. 

Although much of the information is based on US medical care, with many independent labs handling tests as well as hospital labs, there is a great deal in this book which is highly relevant to the UK too.
As a hospital trained midwife, I have to admit that there were quite a few things about lab testing that I certainly did not know and nether did my doctor colleagues, so it is fairly safe to assume that the vast majority of patients who have lab tests done would not know either. When should your TSH thyroid test be done for the most accurate results? Unless you want to run the risk of being inaccurately diagnosed as hypothyroid, avoid having your test done before noon when there is a natural surge in the hormone levels which could skew your results quite markedly...

How and when should blood be drawn?  How are results interpreted? Why do tests fail and need to be re-done? To fast or not to fast before blood tests? Who draws up the reference tables against which the results are interpreted, and are these accurate across a range of age groups and for both males and females? What tests do you actually need to have done?

You might think the answers to these questions are simple, but you would be mistaken. An excellent and clearly written guide for patients and which will also be of value and interest to health care professionals.

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