Should I Have a Test to Diagnose My Health Problem?
Make sure you understand how any medical test will help you before you
agree to it. For instance, the test results could change how your health problem needs to managed. The only good
reason to do a test is because the benefits to you outweigh the risks and
costs. No test can be done without your consent. For more information, see the topic
Smart Decisions: Know Your Options.
Medical tests are
expensive. If you need a test, do your part to make sure that you do not have
to repeat it. The tips below can make a big difference:
Follow instructions about how to prepare. Are you supposed to stop eating the night before? Not drink
alcohol? Stop taking medicines, or take a special medicine? Get written
instructions from your doctor or nurse, and follow them. This reduces the
chance of error and the need to repeat the test, which saves you money. Before
you have a medical test, look it up on this website so you know more about the
test and what you need to do.
Keep a copy of all your results. Get a copy of the full test results, even if they are normal.
You may get a printed copy, or you may be able
to see your test results online. Do not assume that no news is good news. If you do not hear from your doctor,
call to get your test results. This helps in three ways:
It makes sure you have the results if you
later need to compare them to past or future tests.
You have a
backup record in case you see a different doctor who does not get your test
results from your previous doctor. If you can provide a copy, he or she may not
have to repeat the test.
Having the results helps you better
understand what's going on with your health.
Do not check in to a hospital just for tests unless you have to. Sometimes a hospital stay is
needed, but often the point is just to better control what you eat, drink,
and do before the test. Talk to your doctor. He or she may be fine with you
having the tests as an outpatient (which means not staying in the hospital
overnight) as long as you agree to follow instructions for before and after the
test. If it is safe for you to do those things at home instead of at the
hospital, you may greatly lower the cost of the testing.
Don't have tests more often than you need to. If you have a
health problem that requires frequent tests and you are worried about the cost,
tell your doctor. Maybe you can go a little longer between tests. Maybe you can
have a less costly test some of the time and the more expensive one less
Ask about options, and shop around.
The cost of some testing can vary widely without any difference in how reliable
the results are. For expensive tests, it may pay to compare the costs of your