Preparing for Your Lab Test
If your doctor orders a lab test, you may have to follow certain guidelines to prepare for your test at Pacific Diagnostic Laboratories.
Before Your Test
Ensure accurate blood test results with proper preparation. Before your test, eat, drink, and take your prescription medications unless your doctor advises you not to.
Fasting for Blood Tests
Some tests, such as glucose or cholesterol, may require fasting for a certain amount of time before the test. Fasting allows for more accurate baseline sugar and cholesterol level results.
Depending on the type of test you’ll have, your fasting period may be 8 to 14 hours before your test. This means you can’t eat or drink anything (except water) until after your test is complete.
If fasting is hard for you, make an early morning appointment at a PDL patient service center so you only have to fast overnight.
Can I drink coffee when fasting?
No, you should not eat or drink anything besides water while you're fasting for a lab test.
Drink Plenty of Water
Even if you’re fasting, drink plenty of water before your test. Water helps you feel full when you’re fasting, and it makes drawing blood easier. Water in your body keeps your veins plumper and easier to access, which can reduce pain during a blood draw.
If you’re testing with a urine (pee) sample, water can help you deliver an easier sample.
At-Home Lab Tests
Talk to your doctor if you have an at-home test collection so you can prepare for the test.
During Your Lab Test
When it’s time for your test, you’ll be called back into one of our private testing rooms. You’re welcome to ask questions to your lab technician.
Rest assured our lab technicians and staff follow strict safety guidelines to protect you.; This includes cleaning your blood draw site and wearing gloves.
If You’re Nervous
If you’ve nervous about your lab test or have a fear of needles, tell your lab technician. You can:
- Talk or engage in conversation with your lab assistant to help make the test go faster and easier, keeping your mind off the process
- Bring a smartphone or music player with earbuds to listen to music during your test
- Close your eyes or look away from the test, especially if you don’t like the sight of needles
- Reposition yourself so you’re safe if you faint
If You Have Deep Veins
Deep veins make it harder to draw blood. Deep veins are often far under your skin, and sometimes can be hard to find for blood tests. If you have deep veins, your technician may use methods to reduce pain and maintain good blood flow, such as:
- Squeezing a stress ball – Helps keep your veins full of blood and flowing
- Placing a tight band (tourniquet) on your upper arm – Makes your vein bulge below the band to help find the best place to draw blood
- Applying a warm pad on top of your skin – Expands your veins and brings them closer to the surface
After Your Test
After a blood test, you may have slight bruising where the needle went into your skin. Some bruising is normal. If you notice a large bruise, or additional bleeding or swelling, call your doctor for medical advice or a follow-up appointment.
Return to Normal Eating & Drinking
Once your test is done, you can return to a normal diet. Bring a snack with you if you’ve gone through a particularly long fast. Granola bars and crackers are good, light snacks to eat after a long fasting period.
Getting Your Results
Your doctor receives results after your test, sometimes as quickly as one day, by courier directly to their office, or through fax. Most test results are available within three to five business days.
Once your lab results are back, your provider will reach out to you to discuss the next steps. PDL does not release results directly to patients without first notifying your provider.
Prepare Your Child for a Test
Use the following tips to help your child prepare for a lab test:
- Talk to your child before the lab visit about what will happen and how long it will take. Avoid promising a “painless” experience or saying “it only takes a few minutes,” because these outcomes depend on the test and process.
- Let your child ask questions and get answers from the lab assistant.
- Provide a distraction for your child to help alleviate pain or anxiety during the test.
- Follow the test preparation guidelines to make the test go smoother and avoid a reschedule for you and your child.