Proceeds from website advertising help sustain Lab Tests Online. AACC is a not-for-profit organization and does not endorse non-AACC products and services.

Understanding Your Tests

Print this article
Share this page:

Index of Tests
Index of Conditions

The following articles are intended to help patients and providers better understand several areas of laboratory medicine.

Deciphering Your Lab Report
Learn how to read your lab report, including specimen source, specimen collection, laboratory accession number, abnormal test results, interpretation of results, and other important parts of a lab report.

Reference Ranges and What They Mean
Test results are often interpreted in relation to a reference range provided by the laboratory that performed the testing. This article explains what reference ranges are, how they are determined, and some of the common misconceptions about reference ranges.

Making Informed Decisions for Better Health
It's important to make informed decisions about medical tests and lab results for a healthy outcome through patient-centered care. We offer questions to ask your healthcare provider when testing is recommended.

Point-of-Care Testing
Learn about point-of-care testing (POCT), which encompasses any laboratory tests that are performed at or near a patient and at the site where care or treatment is provided. Point-of-care test results are typically available relatively quickly so that they can be acted upon without delay.

With Home Testing, Consumers Take Charge of Their Health
Home medical tests offer many benefits, including convenience and privacy, but it is important to be aware of the possibility of errors and bogus tests.

How Reliable is Laboratory Testing?
All laboratory test methods must meet scientifically rigorous criteria before they can be used in clinical practice, offering important information about an illness or about health status that assists in the diagnosis, treatment, or monitoring of a patient.

Anatomic Pathology
This article explains anatomic pathology, the branch of medicine that studies the effect of disease on the structure of body organs, both as a whole and microscopically, including histopathology and cytopathology — and how it is different than clinical pathology.

The Universe of Genetic Testing
This article examines the various ways that new research in genetic testing will impact your healthcare.

The World of Forensic Laboratory Testing
This article explains what forensic testing is, when it is necessary, and dispels some of the misconceptions you may have about this form of laboratory testing.

Collecting Samples for Testing
This article provides an overview of the wide variety of samples that can be taken from the human body to be used for clinical laboratory testing.

Putting New Laboratory Tests into Practice
A series of articles that describe how different types of laboratory tests are developed, validated, and made available for use by patients and their healthcare providers.

Coping with Test Pain, Discomfort, and Anxiety
A series of articles to help people, especially children and the elderly, cope with providing a sample for laboratory testing, including tips on blood testing.

Wellness and Prevention in an Era of Patient Responsibility
As healthcare consumers have taken on more responsibility for their health, increased attention has been given to the value of preventive medicine. This article discusses how you can take an active role in your healthcare, offering general suggestions as well as more detail on the role of screening tests.

Test Preparation: Your Role
It is important to prepare for your tests as instructed to ensure that your test results are reliable. Follow any instructions you are given as certain behaviors may effect some test results.

Laboratory Methods
Medical laboratories use a variety of methodologies, including immunoassay (IA), enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA), western blot, fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), and polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and these are explained in this article.