Labs and Quality Control

By Pegsy Latest Reply 2015-02-19 05:45:40 -0600
Started 2015-02-18 13:02:34 -0600

To be or not to be. Discouraged that is. In July 2014 I had great labs. My cholesterol was great for the first time since I made significant dietary changes. Then in October of 2014 it was inexplicably high without me changing anything. I was so frustrated. Then last month I was expecting another cholesterol test and couldn't wait to learn the results. As it turns out, my doctor didn't order the test! So I wait another 3 months. Yesterday, I received a letter from the lab that did my test in October. The letter stated that the lab "did not satisfy all the CLIA required standards for quality assurance testing." Wonderful. All this time I believed that I somehow regressed on my cholesterol control when it fact, that may not be the case. I am discouraged in that I don't know how I am doing. I am encouraged by the possibility that my cholesterol may not have been as bad as the test results stated but I am discouraged by the possibility of inaccurate results from the past and possibly future tests.

The letter also stated that if I feel I need to be retested I should discuss it with my doctor and the lab will perform the same tests originally ordered free of charge. Part of me wants to do it and part of me wants to not be bothered. How far off could the results be? After all this time, what does it matter? I will be tested in 3 months anyway. So frustrating to not be able to trust lab results.

17 replies

RebDee 2015-02-19 05:03:28 -0600 Report

Pegsy: Get the free test. Don't wait 3 months. Satisfy your curiosity. Get back on track. You know you didn't change anything so get the results.

valentine lady
valentine lady 2015-02-18 22:59:57 -0600 Report

Hi Pegsy,
I agree with everyone else. By all means re-test. Its not going to cost you anything but your time. So by all means go for it. It
beats waiting another 3 months will just make you miserable. Hugs, VL.

sweetslover 2015-02-18 14:13:52 -0600 Report

Since it would be no cost to you, a re-test might give you some answers without having to wait another 3 months. It's the waiting and not knowing that really bothers me.

GabbyPA 2015-02-18 13:55:27 -0600 Report

I would go for the re-test. It could put your mind at ease. Did the letter explain WHY your results may not have been accurate? Was it the lab, a process or a mix up? Human error is more acceptable to me than if the lab itself had issues. I would want to know that before I go back to test there in the future.

Pegsy 2015-02-18 14:39:45 -0600 Report

What I quoted from the letter above is all the explanation given. Interestingly, it appears different areas were tested during different dates and they were found inaccurate in three different areas during three different time periods. Hematology during the period of my test, Coagulation during a later period and Chemistry overlapping both periods. This sounds like the lab has some bad practices overall. I don't think the issue was human error. The reason for errors is not stated, actually.

GabbyPA 2015-02-18 14:59:12 -0600 Report

Yeah, that sounds a little creepy. Are they making amends to their procedures or methods so that it gets better results? I would also let your doctor know, so that they can assess if they should use a different lab. After all, they are making medical decisions and suggestions based on that information. It would really be bad if they made treatment plans based on wrong results.

Pegsy 2015-02-18 15:03:08 -0600 Report

I agree. My doctor did use a different lab this last time. I don't know the reason but I am glad she did. But honestly, this causes me to have trouble trusting any lab now. How do I know my last (disappointing) A1c was correct? I am seriously thinking of doing a home test to see how it compares.

GabbyPA 2015-02-18 15:07:15 -0600 Report

I did a home test and it was within .2 of the lab my doctor did and they were about a week apart. So those can be a good idea.

Pegsy 2015-02-18 15:20:53 -0600 Report

I did one in October about a week before my doctor did. It was off by .2 also, which I think is pretty good.

Type1Lou 2015-02-18 13:39:25 -0600 Report

I would go for the re-test, particularly since it is at no cost to you (other than a bit of blood)…I'm assuming that it's the same lab that did the original testing and that now they do satisfy the CLIA required standards?…or, in 3 months time is going to a different lab an option for you?

Pegsy 2015-02-18 14:41:15 -0600 Report

My doctor is using a different lab now but that would not be an option for this retest. If the lab hasn't sufficiently corrected things I could just as well end up with skewed results again.

suecsdy 2015-02-18 13:38:56 -0600 Report

Different labs also sometimes use different criteria for their results . My first 2 diabetes tests ere performed by 2 different labs and when I compared the results, I noticed some variations in what is considered normal and what is not. I wasn't a big difference, but enough to get my attention. If they are offering to repeat the test for free, I would do it.

Jibber Jabber
Jibber Jabber 2015-02-18 13:32:35 -0600 Report

Yeah that DOES sound frustrating…at least you received the letter…I mean some people are given wrong information and then NEVER find out it was wrong…sometimes it isn't even the labs fault…look at what happened to me…my doctor told me my thyroid was dead..i walked around for two mos thinking my thyroid was not functioning…then it turned out my "dipshit" doctor just read the results wrong…HELLO!!!!!…I think that we have no choice but to trust the results we get…what else do we have to go on…it sure would be nice if we could get our doctors to retest when things don't seems right…but then there is the issue of insurance companies paying for the retests…I think the best that we can do…is just that..the best that we can do..and as long as we are doing that…then we are doing all we need to and shouldn't sweat ONE bad result on any test..

Pegsy 2015-02-18 14:48:56 -0600 Report

My doctor really pushed me to go on cholesterol meds due to that one test but I refused because the test prior had been so good. I really don't know that I want to do a retest with the same lab with no assurances that they have improved their practices. I am far more concerned about my A1c than I am about my cholesterol and I can do A1c tests at home if I want to. I really am not that concerned about the cholesterol as it wasn't THAT high but I am frustrated over the error and not knowing what my cholesterol has really been doing for the past 7 months.