Blood tests simplified!
Most of us dread blood tests. Why? Yet it is a very simple medical act.
Most people have to have their blood drawn at some point in their lives. However, the process may make some people uncomfortable. Better understanding how they unfold can reduce the anxiety associated with them.
A blood test involves taking a sample of your blood for the purpose of having it analyzed by a medical laboratory. The results will then be forwarded to the medical professional who requested it, so they can interpret the results.
The blood test is useful to:
Establish a diagnosis, decide on a treatment and monitor its effectiveness,
Assess the toxicity of a drug,
Or simply as part of an annual check up.
How does it work?
Blood tests are ordered by a licensed healthcare professional (doctor, medical resident, dentist, pharmacist, midwife, and nurse practitioner) who completes a requisition indicating the blood analyses required.
Blood tests are usually done by certified and licensed nurses, auxiliary nurses or laboratory technicians. The blood test can be done either at home, in a CLSC or in a private laboratory.
The majority of blood tests do not require any special preparation. If necessary, the nurse or the laboratory will indicate the requirements in advance, for example: fasting for 12 hours.
On the day of the blood test, you must have your requisition in hand. Generally, the nurse makes a puncture at the level of the vein at the fold of the elbow. She places a tourniquet (elastic band) around the chosen arm to help locate and feel the vein. You may also be asked to clench your fist to make the veins more visible. If you have a latex allergy, please notify your nurse, she will wear latex free gloves.
The nurse then disinfects the area with an alcohol swab and inserts a needle connected to a tube to collect the blood. Depending on the number of analyzes needed, the amount of blood collected may vary. Often, one or two tubes are enough to perform all the tests requested.
The blood drawing itself takes a few seconds. An elaborate blood test that includes 4 to 5 collection tubes will require barely one tablespoon of blood (15 mL); a very small fraction of the 4 to 5 liters of blood that the human body contains.
Some patients feel a small sting or burn when the needle is inserted into the vein. Some others experience mild vagal discomfort (feeling dizzy and weak, sweating profusely and even fainting) upon withdrawal of the needle. If you are prone to these symptoms, please inform your nurse before the blood test so that she can allow you to lie down during the procedure.
After the blood test, the tubes are labeled with your personal information and sent to a laboratory for analysis. The delay for the blood test results vary depending on the laboratory and analyses requested. Generally, the results are obtained in the week following the blood test and are sent directly to the professional who requested it.
Take blood samples at home
Blood tests can be done in the comfort of your home. CLSC nurses or independent nurses offering this service can travel directly to your home. You can therefore avoid the inconvenience and discomfort associated with this test while taking care of your health.
You can ask your CLSC or visit Vesta to find an independent nurse who does blood tests in your area.
To learn more about blood tests done at home, read the article Blood tests at home, it's possible!
Be in control of your schedule
Avoid the anxiety of calling multiple clinics to finally get an appointment and sitting in busy waiting rooms. Get the health care you need, the moment you need it.