Laboratory Services


What is a medical laboratory or lab?

A laboratory (lab) is any facility that does laboratory testing on specimens derived from humans to give information for the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of disease, or to assess a person's health. The Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA '88) are federal guidelines for the regulation of laboratory testing to ensure the accuracy, reliability, and timeliness of patient test results regardless of where the test was performed. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) oversee the implementation of CLIA and are responsible for the oversight of these regulations in laboratory settings. Laboratories are required to be inspected and re-accredited every two years.

What are medical lab tests?

Lab tests are examinations performed on blood, body fluids, tissues, and other substances in order to determine what is normal or what is abnormal for you as a patient.

Why are medical lab tests such an important part of healthcare?

It has been estimated that 60-70 percent of all diagnoses and treatments are based on the results of lab tests. Your doctor may request one or many lab tests depending on your specific condition. Your doctor uses lab results to: identify changes in your health condition; diagnose a disease or condition; plan your treatment; evaluate your response to a treatment; and monitor the course of a disease over time.

Who can order medical lab tests?

Only your medical or osteopathic doctor or other authorized, licensed healthcare providers with the recognized authority to do so can order lab tests. Patients cannot order their own tests. Laboratories in New York State can only accept orders from licensed providers, which does not, at this time, include naturopathic physicians.

Who performs the testing on laboratory specimens?

Most lab testing is performed by certified, college-degreed medical technologists or medical technicians or by pathologists who are board certified physicians with licenses to practice medicine. Testing personnel must satisfy rigid accreditation standards set forth by the federal Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA '88).

Where do I get my blood drawn if I have an order from my physician?

To locate the nearest Patient Service Center please click here.

Do I need to fast before my medical lab tests?

"Fast" means you cannot eat or drink anything for approximately 12 hours prior to the test. Fasting means you should not eat or drink any liquids except for water. You do not have to fast unless your doctor has ordered a "fasting" test. Two common tests that generally require fasting are a glucose test and a lipid panel.

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