What happens in the lab? Common medical tests

A diagnosis can’t always be made solely by reviewing symptoms and doing a physical exam. Emergency care doctors may request certain lab tests to check for problems like infections. Primary care doctors may also request lab tests or medical images, either for screening or diagnostic purposes. Watch the accompanying video to hear the Director of Women’s Diagnostics at West Hills Hospital talk about one common screening and diagnostic exam used to check for breast abnormalities.

Complete blood count
A CBC is a comprehensive blood test that may be requested in the Emergency Room or in a primary care setting. This test measures many aspects of a patient’s blood, including the following:

  • Red blood cells
  • White blood cells
  • Platelets
  • Hemoglobin
  • Hematocrit

A CBC can be used to diagnose many different problems, including:

  • Anemia
  • Immune system diseases
  • Blood cancers
  • Infections

Metabolic panel
A metabolic panel refers to a group of tests that let doctors evaluate the body’s metabolism and chemical balance. A basic metabolic panel checks a patient’s calcium, blood glucose, kidney function and electrolytes. A complete metabolic panel tests everything that the BMP does, in addition to the patient’s protein levels, liver function and cholesterol.

Influenza test
If you visit the Emergency Room because of flu-like symptoms, your healthcare provider may ask you to have an influenza test. Usually, the test is performed by swabbing the throat or nose with a sterile swab. The sample of cells is sent to the lab for analysis.

Bacteria cultures
Bacteria culture tests allow doctors to identify whether a patient has a certain infection. This group of tests may require a sample of blood, urine or skin to test in the lab.

A throat culture, for example, checks for strep throat. A sputum culture evaluates mucus from the lungs for signs of respiratory infections like bacterial pneumonia or bronchitis.

West Hills Hospital is a modern, state-of-the-art healthcare facility that offers a complete range of diagnostic services. Delivering exceptional, patient-focused care matters to us because our doctors and nurses live and work in the same West Hills community as your family. Call a registered nurse at (818) 676-4321 to request a physician referral.

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