BIVDA Don't Wait;Act Launch - Blog Piece on Diagnostic Testing
Why Your Diagnostic Tests can be Vital
A blood test can mean the difference between life and death. Hard-hitting as it sounds, diagnostic tests provide results that can change an individual’s life and allow health professionals to diagnose and then treat their conditions.
Diagnostic tests are a key component in virtually every health intervention that takes place. The results of these tests provide essential and invaluable information throughout the healthcare process, with tests being used for screening, diagnosis, prognosis and monitoring of patients. They are also used to rule out a potential diagnosis as many conditions have similar physical symptoms. Having a test early can also mean that a life threatening illness is caught in time for the individual to be treated and cured, essential in conditions like cancer and heart disease.
Diagnostics tests can be considered as part of the clinical jigsaw which helps a doctor to identify a problem, along with other jigsaw pieces such as blood pressure, weight loss or gain, appetite, temperature etc. Sometimes these are one-off puzzles to solve, other times they form part of an ongoing process. For instance people with diabetes routinely monitor the level of sugar in their blood and this gives them instant information to use to make decisions on what to eat or whether they need medication such as an insulin injection. But every six months they should also have a test called glycated haemoglobin or HbA1c, this gives their diabetes specialist a longer term picture about well their blood sugar level have been maintained since their last test and can be used to help make changes to daily management and prevent the long term consequences of unmanaged diabetes.
It is also important that people on long term medication such as statins or digoxin have regular blood tests to make sure their organ functions is not being impaired by the drug that is intended to keep them well.
Patient care is obviously the main priority, but when used appropriately, information from diagnostics tests also improves the quality of healthcare delivery whilst at the same time improving efficiency within the NHS. Reduced hospital stays, avoidance of unnecessary or incorrect treatment and improved management of patient health all reduce costs. So getting tests done actually reduces the burden on the NHS in many cases.
If you would like to read more about any specific test or which diseases require which tests then a valuable source of information is www.labtestsonline.org.uk