What You Should Know Before Getting Your Blood Drawn

September 21, 2020
Middlesex Health phlebotomist prepares patient for blood draw.

Sometimes, you may need to get blood tests if you have a specific health concern. Other times, your medical provider may ask you to get your blood drawn as a way to monitor your general health.

You may also choose to give blood, and this selfless act would also require you to get your blood drawn.

More than 10 billion lab tests are performed in the United States each year—1.2 million of which are performed by Middlesex Health. Lab test results comprise about 70 percent of your medical record.

Given that getting your blood drawn is so common, it is helpful to know more about the process. The following is information that will help you next time you need to visit a Middlesex Health lab:

  • Do NOT pump your fist when giving blood. This is often what you are asked to do when you donate your blood. However, Middlesex Health staff members say fist pumping prior to giving the blood needed for clinical tests can dramatically change your results. It can cause a decrease in plasma volume and an increase in the concentration of red blood cells and other components of blood. In addition, the repetitive muscle contraction immediately elevates chemical substances in the blood, such as potassium and ionized calcium.
  • Some blood tests are sensitive, and eating and drinking before you take them can interfere with the results. Fasting, which helps to ensure test accuracy, means that you should not eat or drink for 12 hours before getting your blood test. Common tests that require fasting include blood cholesterol, triglyceride and glucose level tests. If you don’t know whether you should fast, ask your doctor!
  • The amount of blood a phlebotomist collects depends on the type of test ordered and how much blood is needed to perform the test. Middlesex Health works hard to make sure it minimizes the amount of blood collected, and it uses computer software programs to help ensure accuracy during the blood collection and labeling process.
  • Your lab test results may differ depending on what lab runs your test. Different labs use different testing methodologies, and this may bring different results. This is why your provider has normal reference ranges. It helps them read your results properly.
  • You can still get your blood drawn at a Middlesex Health lab—even if you have another lab designated on your form.

Middlesex Health has four outpatient lab locations: two in Middletown, one in Westbrook and one in Marlborough. All Middlesex Health lab locations are taking extra precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please note that all patients and staff are expected to wear face masks while in a Middlesex Health facility. Temperatures will be taken upon arrival.

For more information about Middlesex Health lab locations, including hours of operation, visit middlesexhealth.org/lab.

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