When will they be available?
The majority of blood tests are carried out by the Laboratory within 48 hours of their receipt and the results are now sent to the surgery electronically, often within 72 hours of the sample being taken.
However, it is worth bearing in mind that it can be a few days before a doctor examines and assesses the results, largely due to pressure of work and the large number of results arriving at the surgery every day.
We suggest you wait 5 working days from when the sample was taken before contacting the surgery about the results. However, if a result is particularly worrying or urgent we will endeavour to obtain this, although the process can be a time-consuming for surgery staff.
A few, more specialised tests do take longer to process, either because the Oldham Laboratory sends them to another hospital for analysis or because they are only carried out by the Laboratory in batches on certain days of the week. It may be necessary to allow 2 weeks for the results of these tests to be available at the surgery.
Urine tests, swabs, cultures and histological tests can also take longer to be reported and it may be advisable to allow 5-10 days before enquiring about these tests, probably at the shorter end of the range for urine tests
How do I obtain the result?
The doctor or nurse may have suggested that you book an appointment in advance to discuss the results of tests. In this case it is advisable when you arrive at the surgery for this appointment you check with the receptionist that the results are available – this is normally shown on your computer records. Please note that we are only able to deal with telephone enquiries about results between 11:00 and 16:00.
If the results have not arrived it will often be possible for the receptionist to ring the appropriate hospital department and arrange for the results to be faxed to the surgery. This process can take 10-15minutes so this is best done before rather than during a consultation.
Alternatively, you may have been told to ring the surgery to check that the results are back before booking an appointment. Again, the receptionist should be able to check that the results are back by examining your computer records.
It is worth bearing in mind that if you are waiting for the results of a series of tests, some, but not all, may have arrived at the surgery. It is not always easy for receptionist to be sure that there are no results outstanding but it may still worthwhile trying to clarify the situation before booking or starting your consultation.
Finally, there may not be any particular plan to make an appointment concerning results and patients will simply be ringing the surgery to obtain some guidance as to whether the test results were satisfactory. The outcome will depend on how the doctor or nurse interprets the results and this process will be explained in the next section.
If you are very concerned about the results of any test, or you cannot attend the surgery, you may wish to request a telephone consultation with a doctor, preferably the doctor who ordered the test
How are the results interpreted?
The Hospital Pathology Laboratory tends to define “normal” ranges for many blood tests and also urine tests and some swabs/cultures etc.
If the results are within these ranges the tests will automatically be labelled “normal” and this is what you will be told with often no further action required.
Unfortunately, the interpretation of results that are outside the defined “normal” range is not always straightforward and minor anomalies/deviations are often shown which are of no importance. In these situations you will probably told that the results were to some extent “abnormal” but were “acceptable”. This means that there is nothing for you to worry about.
In other cases, there will be a definite abnormality shown which is thought to be significant. This may still not be serious and could be a transient phenomenon, which disappears or improves on subsequent tests.
Generally speaking, if there was a significant abnormality you are advised to make an appointment but we try to indicate whether this should be a “routine” or “urgent” appointment.
Please note it is your responsibility to contact the practice for the results of any blood tests you have taken.
Update 19/11/20: The practice are currently trialling sending test results via text. (Please note that this is in certain circumstances only).