Frequently Asked Questions 

 What do medical labs do?

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

 Who pays for lab tests?

 Where is LifeLabs located?

 When are you open?

 How do I prepare for the test? Can I eat before the test?

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


 Can I get AIDS or hepatitis from having my blood taken?

 May I have my ECG or Holter monitoring done at any of your Patient Service
    Centres?


 Why do you ask for so much information about me?

 How does LifeLabs keep track of this information?

 Are my laboratory test results confidential?

 Will you tell me my results?

 How are the laboratory results given to my doctor?

 When will my doctor get the results?

 I am booked for surgery. Will my doctor get these results in time?

 What will my tests tell my doctor?

 What will the lab ask me to do?

 How long will this take?

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


 If I have had my blood taken before and it was "hard to get", should I mention that?

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

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

 How do you dispose of your garbage?

 

    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. See also: Learn About Lab Tests.

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

    LifeLabs operates networks of Patient Service Centres where samples are collected from patients who are not in 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 hospital. Many hospitals also send some of their 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.

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    Who pays for lab tests?

    How tests are paid for depends on where you live and the specific test. In Canada, most routine tests are covered under provincial/territorial government programs. In Ontario and British Columbia, LifeLabs bills your provincial health insurance plan directly. Some tests are not covered by government plans and must be paid for by the patient. Many of these tests may be reimbursed by employee health insurance plans.


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    Where is LifeLabs located?

    We have Patient Service Centres in more than 330 locations in North America. You may go to any centre in your area. We will collect your sample and transport it by LifeLabs courier to the appropriate laboratory. Your doctor will receive your test results just as quickly, no matter which of our facilities you go to for your tests. To find the most convenient location for you, use our Patient Service Centre locator in the top right corner of this page. For more information about all LifeLabs locations, please visit About Us.

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    When are you open?

    Days and hours of operation differ from location to location.

    We set our days and hours of operation to meet the needs of the doctors and patients in each community. We review the hours regularly to be sure that we continue to provide our services when they are needed most.

    Each centre's hours of operation is included in our Patient Service Centre locator in the top right corner of this page or please call us.

    In Ontario, call toll free at 1-877-849-3637.

    In British Columbia, call 604-431-7206 or toll free 1-800-431-7206.

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    How do I prepare for the test? Can I eat before the test?

    Each test has different requirements. Please see our Patient Instructions section or call us.

    In Ontario, call toll free at 1-877-849-3637.

    In the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, call 604-431-7206 or toll free 1-800-431-7206. Patient Instructions

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

    Yes. We have personnel 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 request of a doctor.

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    Can I get AIDS or hepatitis from having my blood taken?

    Absolutely not. 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 that 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.

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    May I have my ECG or Holter monitoring done at any of your Patient Service Centres?

    ECG services are available at most locations. Please telephone the PSC you plan to visit to get specific instructions for your location.
    We also provide Holter monitoring at many locations. You will need to book an appointment in advance.

    To book a Holter monitor appointment please call:

    In Ontario, call toll free at 1-877-849-3637.

    In the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, call 604-412-4495. For Vancouver Island locations, call 1-250-881-3155.

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    Why do you ask for so much information about me?

    We must be sure that we identify every patient accurately by name, address and health insurance number. To be absolutely sure of accuracy, we will ask you for that information each time you visit one of our facilities.

    We need to know your age because lab results can mean different things depending on a patient's age and sex. A lab result that's "normal" for a 60 year-old woman may not be normal for a 5 year-old boy.

    If your doctor orders certain tests, we might ask you when you last ate or when you last took your medication. We need to know this so that your physician can fully understand the meaning of the test result.

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    How does LifeLabs keep track of this information?

    Our employees enter all the information from you and your doctor 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 ensures that your name and specimen are accurately matched all the way through the testing process.

    For further information, please refer to our Privacy section.

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    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.

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    When will my doctor get the results?

    This depends on the tests your doctor ordered. While many results are reported within 24 hours of your visit here, some require more complex testing and can take longer. For example, a routine blood test result may be available within 24 hours, but a blood culture may require 48 hours.

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    How are the laboratory results given to my doctor?

    There are a number of ways your doctor can receive results. The most common is a paper report distributed by our courier delivery system. Some physicians prefer to use a secure electronic link between their computer system and the LifeLabs computer network. We have special procedures in place to alert physicians of results that they need to know urgently.

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    Will you tell me my results?

    We can only provide results directly to you in certain circumstances and if your doctor has authorized their release.

    Please refer to our Privacy for more information.

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    I am booked for surgery. Will my doctor get these results in time?

    Please let our staff know the date of your surgery and the name of your hospital. We will ensure the hospital receives your results before your surgery date.

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    What will my tests tell my doctor?

    You might be tested for a variety of 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.

    There are hundreds of tests that could be ordered for different reasons. Also, different combinations of tests may be ordered for different reasons. That's why our staff can't answer any questions about why your doctor has ordered a certain test or what (s)he is looking for. Your doctor is the person to answer any questions you may have.

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    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. For more information on preparing for tests, visit our Patient Instructions section or call us.

    In Ontario, call toll free at 1-877-849-3637.

    In the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, call 604-431-7206 or toll free 1-800-431-7206. For Vancouver Island locations, call 1-800-297-7747.

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    How long will this take?

    Generally, a visit takes only 10 to 20 minutes minutes. For some tests, you must stay longer in the Patient Service Centre or you may have to make an appointment to come back after a period of not eating or drinking.

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    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 collections procedures are quick and easy.

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    If I have had my blood taken before and it was "hard to get", 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.

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    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.

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    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. Some tests are performed at hospital or public health laboratories. LifeLabs's courier and delivery systems make sure that the samples get to the right testing lab quickly and safely.

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    How do you dispose of your garbage?

    We follow strict rules for waste disposal. These rules are set for both environmental and safety reasons.

    All our "contaminated waste" is packaged and transported in a way that meets or exceeds government regulations.

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