Sexual Health Monday September 5, 2011

The benefits of lab testing

Laboratory testing plays a big part in our lives, as pretty much all the products we use went through some sort of test process to check whether it’s safe to use or whether it will work effectively. Although the testing process for a consumer product may be different from testing for an infection, both processes need to be done according the highest standards dictated by medical authorities. In the case of medical testing, these regulations are governed by the MHRA in the UK or FDA in the US.

What is clinical laboratory testing?

Medical Laboratory testing can be divided into two different types, namely anatomic pathology and clinical pathology. Clinical pathology is mainly concerned with the laboratory testing processes involved diagnosis and prevention of diseases by looking at bodily fluids. Anatomic pathology looks at tissue samples to establish an illness. Both branches can be divided into smaller more specified sections, but sometimes both can be practiced. The tests on this site are mostly conducted through the use of strict clinical laboratory testing processes, by qualified lab technicians, assistants and pathologists.

How is it different from doing a home test or getting tested at a clinic?

Our service allows you to collect a specimen at home, but we still require you to send it back to our laboratory where it can be tested under clinical laboratory conditions. Although we always think it’s a good idea to get professional advice if you are uncertain or would require treatment.

Home STI test kits that provide you with the test results almost straight away are often used by people to establish whether they have an STI or not. These are convenient and are mostly developed under laboratory conditions; however they can be subject to human error and miss-interpretation, so you may have to do more than one or verify positive results by also completing a laboratory test. Home test kits might not be able to test for all types of bacteria that is responsible for an infection, which could mean that a positive diagnosis could be overlooked.

Samples collected at a doctor’s office, hospital or clinic, are also sent to a clinical laboratory like ours and it’s undergoes the same rigorous analysis. One benefit of having a test done at your doctor or local clinic is that the specimen will be collected by a doctor, but you may have to wait until a next available appointment in order to get your results.

Next week, we’ll discuss the different types of clinical laboratory testing available and how they work.

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