What You Need to Know About Medical Tests
TUESDAY Dec. 28, 2010 -- When your doctor orders a medical test for you, there are a number of questions you need to ask before and after it, experts advise.
The Center for Advancing Health, an organization dedicated to seeing that everyone benefits from advances in health care, offers some helpful tips for patients.
First, they suggest, ask your doctor to write down details such as the name of the test and the reason for it. Request written materials or other resources that describe how you need to prepare for the test and what to expect during it.
Ask how much the test costs. Find out if your insurance covers the test and what you will have to pay in out-of-pocket costs.
After you've had the test, follow-up is important. Always ask to see your test results, whether they are good or bad. You should know how you will be notified about the results, how long you will have to wait for the results, and who you should contact after receiving them.
It's common for patients to be asked how they would like to receive their test results. If the test is routine and the results are normal, it's likely fine to receive that information via an automated phone or e-mail system. However, if your test is for a special condition, or if the results are unclear or not labeled "normal," you should ask that your doctor or health care team discuss the findings with you in person.
And once the test results are delivered, be sure to ask your health provider what they mean for your ongoing care.
The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has more about medical tests.
Posted: December 2010