Visiting the Lab

Frequently asked Questions:

What is meant by Fasting?  Is it the same as NPO, or nothing passed orally?

Our requirement for fasting is nothing but water for at least 12 hours.  We ask that you refrain from any alcohol for at least 24 – 48 hours prior to your blood being drawn.  Alcohol is known to be a big influence on your Triglycerides, which is a test that we evaluate when we are checking your cholesterol. No, fasting is not the same as NPO or nothing passed orally typically after midnight.  NPO is typically for some type of surgical procedure to help prevent nausea and accidental aspiration during the intubation process.

Can I still have my decaffeinated coffee?  No, you can have your normal regiment of water only.

Can I still take my morning medication?  Yes, you can.  If it is required to be taken with food, then please try to keep the amount of food to a minimum.  Please notify the person taking your blood that you had to ingest some food for your medication. 

What if I am a diabetic and I am unable to fast for 12 hours?  Please speak with your doctor.  Have your doctor either provide us with his or her wishes or please be sure to let the laboratory personnel know of any special instructions that your doctor has given to you.    

What hours can I have my blood drawn and do I have to make an appointment? 

We are available for non-emergent blood draws 8:00 to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:00 to 12:00 p.m. on Saturdays.   We currently do not require an appointment at this time for the above hours. 

We are also available for non-emergent blood draws, from 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., Monday through Saturday.  However, we do require you to make an appointment with the hospital laboratory, not the doctor’s office, at least by 5:00 p.m. the day prior for these service times. 

Why do I have to make an appointment for these times, I have come in before and the laboratory has taken my blood?  These appointment times are strictly to provide you with better service.  First, our business office may or may not have someone available to register you as a hospital outpatient during these hours. Without this registration, we are unable to run the tests that your doctor has ordered, because as of April 18, 2008, we have become fully computerized.

Second, in the case that we do not have an order from your doctor, most doctors are not available during these early hours, so an order will not be able to be obtained prior to your blood collection.  By making an appointment, it allows the laboratory staff to verify your orders prior to your presentation to the hospital.  

Why doesn’t the laboratory have appointment times for all lab draws?  Having scheduled appointments is a possibility in the future and is being evaluated.   We currently do not make all outpatients make an appointment, because we provide laboratory services for many doctors outside of Syracuse.  It is more difficult to collaborate appointment times with patients from outside doctors.

Why do I have to do all this testing before my surgery when I am fairly healthy?

Most surgeons require your primary care doctor to give you the all clear for surgery. Typically, these tests have to be performed within a specified time frame from your date of surgery.  These tests and the physician office visit are to help prevent surprises during surgery.  The goal of your primary care doctor and the surgeon is to keep your routine surgery just that, routine.

During these pre-operative visits, the doctor typically requests the laboratory to check your urine.  Please be prepared to provide a urine sample upon presentation to the hospital.  If it appears that you are going to have to wait, please notify the laboratory that you need to provide urine sample and we will accommodate that process as quickly as possible.

Why can’t I use my own sample container, such as an old pill bottle to collect my urine? 

You can bring your urine with you to your doctor’s visit, but it must be in a container provided by the clinic or hospital.  These containers that we provide are containers that are purchased to be sterile.  Allowing containers that originated from a patient’s home inserts extra variables within the testing system.  In the laboratory, we try to maintain a very consistent set of steps from start to finish when providing laboratory testing in an effort to provide the highest quality tests results.

Why do I have to provide not only my name, but also my date of birth on a urine or stool sample that I collected at home and brought to the clinic or hospital? 

Having to have two patient identifiers is crucial to maintaining the patient’s identity and is a requirement of most laboratory accrediting agencies.  In the laboratory, we verify the name and date of birth against the patient information in the computer to make sure that we have the correct specimen with the correct patient’s chart. 

Why do I have to sign a sheet of paper every time I come to the hospital to have my blood drawn? 

In a hospital, we are required to obtain consent prior to rendering treatment, except in the case of certain emergency situations. We are also obtaining consent for release of patient record information to your insurance company for payment of claims and to the financial agreement of the liability of those expenses not paid by your insurance company.

Will the lab test be paid for by my insurance company/Medicare?
Orders for laboratory tests from the doctors are based by the medical necessity of the patient; most tests are subject to commercial and Medicare reimbursement.  However, each policy may vary with their policies on covering screening tests, and there may be a limit to screening coverage.  To be sure of coverage, please contact your insurance company prior to presenting the hospital for lab testing.