Understanding The Designation Of A Lab Test As Preventive Or Diagnostic

Laboratory services are frequently prescribed to prevent or diagnose a medical condition. As you review the laboratory tests that your physician may order, you may be unable to decipher between the preventive lab services and those that are diagnostic. Here's a bit of information about preventive and diagnostic tests to help you understand how their designation.

Preventive Lab Tests

Preventive laboratory tests are designed to help your physicians discover medical issues before any symptoms actually present. By discovering a potential issue early, you can receive treatment that reverses the condition or even prevents a chronic illness from occurring. Preventive laboratory tests are often performed during routine checkups. Thus, they are frequently covered by health insurance plans that pay for preventive care.

Diagnostic Lab Tests

Diagnostic laboratory tests are performed after an abnormality has been discovered. The discovery could stem from the presentation of abnormal symptoms, but it could also occur because of the results from a preventive lab test. Thus, you may receive a diagnostic test after receiving a preventive screening.

The Same Lab Test May Be Preventive or Diagnostic

A laboratory test may be preventive under one circumstance and diagnostic under another. The designation of the test frequently depends on the patient's specific situation. If a doctor orders a blood glucose test as a routine screening during an annual physical, the laboratory test will likely be deemed preventive. However, if the patient has started to present signs of diabetes and visits their physician because they are concerned about the new symptoms, the blood glucose test will likely be considered diagnostic.

In addition to preventive and diagnostic screenings, a lab test may also be considered routine as a part of a chronic treatment plan. Once a person has been diagnosed with diabetes, they may be regularly screened to assess blood sugar levels and determine whether or not prescribed medications and changes in behavior have been helpful in the control of the condition.

Here are a few common examples of laboratory services that may be considered preventive or diagnostic

  • Health panels. Health panels are a group of lab tests that measures the presence of various substances, such as potassium and calcium, in your blood.
  • Vitamin deficiency screenings. Your physician may also order a screening for vitamins, such as vitamin D, to determine whether or not supplementation is needed.
  • Complete Blood Count. The test measures the number of red and white blood cells present in a blood sample.

To learn more about preventive and diagnostic lab services, schedule a consultation with a local medical laboratory service.