Ordering your own bloodwork can often help save money and avoid the hassle of dealing with your doctor and insurance. However, your first time through the process can be a confusing experience, so here's what to expect.
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Almost all blood test providers will use local LabCorp or Quest offices to draw your blood. You should use their location finders (LabCorp, Quest) to make sure there's a convenient draw center near you. In a small number of cases, the provider will have you use another blood draw center, or will ship you a blood-draw kit that can be used by your doctor or a phlebotomist to collect the blood. LabSafe will even send a phlebotomist to your home or office to draw the blood if you shell out the big bucks.
My list of blood test and provider details can help you choose the best provider for the tests you want. If you're ordering several tests, you can also check each provider's site for discounted panels that contain multiple tests.
Once you've made a decision, placing your order will allow the provider to create a requisition that you will provide to the blood draw location.
The blood test provider will either provide you with a digital copy of the requisition to print out, or they will mail you a printed copy. Once you've received the requisition, you can make arrangements to have the blood drawn, usually by scheduling an appointment (LabCorp, Quest). Most locations also allow walk-ins.
The requisition or the test description on the provider's web site may give you information on special restrictions before taking the test, such as fasting or time-of-day restrictions.
Assuming you're having the blood drawn at LabCorp or Quest, the blood draw fees are usually included in the purchase price of the test, so no payment will be necessary at your appointment. That means you only need to bring your requisition and a photo ID.
The staff will take your requisition, have you fill out some basic patient information, and then draw the necessary blood samples. You'll then be free to go; they will handle sending your samples off to the lab.
Within a short period, usually less than 2 weeks, you'll receive your results by mail, e-mail, or fax. Your results should include the values you were tested for, along with "reference ranges" for values considered normal. For example, see Life Extension's sample result.
That's it, you're done!