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Why has my doctor ordered these lab tests?

Laboratory tests are ordered for many different reasons; because of a problem you've reported to your doctor, to check on a condition that has already been diagnosed, or maybe to see how you're responding to prescribed medication. These are just some of the reasons why your doctor might ask for a lab test. 

As well, the same test or combinations of tests may be ordered for different reasons. Our staff cannot answer any questions about why your doctor has ordered a certain test or what (s)he is looking for. Your doctor is the best person to speak with to answer any questions you may have.

What will the lab ask me to do?

​Laboratory tests are usually done on body fluids, most often blood and urine. Likely, we'll collect a small amount of blood from you or we'll ask you to collect a sample of your urine.

Fasting is required for some laboratory tests so we might ask you not to eat or drink anything for several hours before your lab test.  Read our Patient Instructions and How to Prepare for your Lab Visit for more information.

How long will my lab visit take?

​We do our best to serve patients in a timely manner. Wait times can vary depending on the tests you require and the number of patients in the Patient Service Centre. Typically, wait times are a little longer in the morning.  For some tests, you may need to stay longer in the Patient Service Centre.

Booking an appointment will reduce your wait time at the Patient Service Centre.  Appointment Booking is available at most locations online at

You may also visit Patient Instructions and How to Prepare for your Lab Visit for more information.

Can I get any diseases from having my blood taken?

​No. The needle we use to draw your blood is sterile. Each needle is packaged individually and used only once.

The cap is always removed immediately before the needle is used. Immediately after its use, the needle is discarded according to strict biohazard waste disposal regulations.

When you have a blood test, nothing goes into your system. Your specimen is taken into a tube that has a vacuum. When the needle tip goes into your skin, the blood in your vein rushes-in to fill the vacuum. It is a safe, sealed and self-contained procedure. All the tubes and containers used for patients' specimens are used only once and then discarded.

Safety is extremely important to us. We follow strict safety guidelines and take every precaution to protect your safety.

Should I tell you if I have never had a blood test before, or if I am nervous about having one?

​Yes, please. We will do everything we can to make you comfortable and tell you in advance what to expect. Today, blood specimen collection procedures are quick and easy. 

Please visit How to prepare for your Lab Visit for more information.

If I have had my blood taken before and it was "hard to get" or I have a history of fainting during blood draws, should I mention that?

Yes, please. Our employees are highly skilled, but you know more about your own body. We count on you to tell us if you've had any problems in the past. We will do our best to make sure that things go smoothly.  ​

Are my laboratory test results confidential?

​Yes. Your medical information is confidential. The results of your laboratory tests are given only to your doctor and, if your doctor asks us, we will report the results to another doctor. For example, your doctor may have referred you to a specialist physician who also needs to see your lab reports. On very rare occasions, full disclosure of the contents of a medical record may be required by a court of law.

For further information, please refer to our Privacy section.

What happens to my sample(s) after I leave the Patient Service Centre?

​Tests are performed at a number of different laboratories. Most tests are performed at our main testing facilities, but some may also be performed at hospital or public health laboratories. LifeLabs' couriers and delivery systems make sure that the samples get to the right testing lab quickly and safely.

How does LifeLabs keep track of my sample?

​Our employees enter the information on the requisition you provide us into our computer system. The computer produces printed labels that go on every container or test tube that holds your specimens.

At LifeLabs we use bar code scanning much like the kind you see in grocery and department stores. In our bar code system every patient receives a unique number every time he or she visits one of our locations. The bar code forms part of the label on your specimen containers. This sophisticated system makes sure that your name and specimen are accurately matched all the way through the testing process.

When and how will my doctor get the results?

​While some results are available within 24 hours of your visit, others require more complex testing and can take longer. The timing by which your doctor receives results depends on the test ordered and how your doctor receives reports from LifeLabs.

There are a number of ways your doctor can receive results, including paper reports distributed by courier or mail delivery, by fax or through a secure electronic link between your doctor's computer system and the LifeLabs computer network. We have special procedures in place to alert physicians of results they should know urgently.

Please contact your doctor to find out if your results are available.

Is there a difference between a LifeLabs facility and a hospital lab?

​LifeLabs operates networks of community Patient Service Centres where samples are collected from patients who are not in the hospital. These samples are transported by our couriers and, in most cases, tested in our network of LifeLabs laboratories. Hospital laboratories focus mainly on patients who are in the hospital. Many hospitals also send some of their patients' samples to LifeLabs laboratories for testing and in some cases LifeLabs manages the hospital's lab.

All medical laboratories must meet strict accreditation standards. This means that the quality of laboratory testing is extremely high, no matter which type of laboratory performs the test.

What do medical labs do?

​Medical laboratories perform the tests ordered by doctors to help diagnose, treat and monitor their patients. When your doctor orders a lab test, we collect a specimen - usually a small sample of blood, urine or other body fluid. We test the specimen and report the result to the doctor who ordered the tests.

Do you have any special services for patients who cannot come to the lab for their tests?

Yes. We have Medical Laboratory Assistants who collect specimens from elderly and infirm patients in their homes and from patients in long-term care facilities. This mobile lab service is provided in a number of communities and is available at the referral of a doctor. There may be a fee for this service.  Please see our Mobile Lab Service page for more information. Additionally, residents of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) can get their blood tests and ECGs done at their home or workplace by using the LifeLabs MyVisit™ service, for a convenience fee. No referral is required for this service. Please see our MyVisit™ page for more information.

How much blood will you take? Will I be tired afterwards?

​The amount of blood we take depends on the tests your doctor has ordered.

However, modern laboratory equipment lets us perform many tests on a small sample of blood. What may appear to be a lot of blood is usually no more than a teaspoon or two.

Because the amount of blood removed is small, you should not feel any ill effects.

Did you know that you can book your appointment online?

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