Started this in response to comments on DustyDay thread 'blood test results'.
Lots of us on here make regular visits to clinic and have blood tests taken. But not all of us see the results.
Dustyday has a good thread 'Blood Test Results' sharing her story about learning the value of getting print-outs of test results. I mentioned I put my results into a spreadsheet at home, so that I can see which results remain stable over time, and quickly spot any unusual trend either up or down of any result.
BigPlanet asked about software for a spreadsheet. I just use Microsoft Excel which comes as standard with our home pc.
Column 1 on the left is a list of lab test, grouped under 'Liver Function', Urea&Electrolytes, Full blood count, etc etc. Under the headings I list the individual test - so Liver Function has underneath 'ALT', ALP, bilrubin, albumin etc.
The next column I put the values for 'normal' range, so for ALT I have 10-50 because thats what my laboratory has as normal. Your lab may have a different 'normal'.
Then across the top of the spreadsheet (landscape) I have columns for date of test.
Then I match up the date with the test and put in the value. If the value is out of range I type it in red so it sticks out for me. The rest I type in black.
I find this useful when I go to clinic, as typically the consultant just checks the latest lot of test results, and if they are 'normal' no comment is made. My gastroenterologist says 'don't get hung up about numbers' and in a sense he's right. Its the trend that is more important. With my spreadsheet I can spot when a value has been steadily rising or falling over a few weeks or months, and bring this to their attention. For example he might look at my eFGR kidney flow rate and say 'its in normal range, its fine, no worries'. But I can say 'look, in July 2012 it was 90%, then we introduced drug xyz and since then its been steadily falling, now in March 2013 it's only just in normal range and the trend shows in the next few weeks/months it will be out of range, what shall we do NOW'.
Everyone is entitled to copies of their results. My GP practice has secretaries whose job it is to process test results. I go in person (better than a phone call) and ask for copies and give them plenty of time to print them out and leave them at reception for me to collect later. Sometimes they might say 'why do you need these' or 'we are trying to save money by going paperless' but a polite firmness or a box of chocolates works wonders!
At my hospital clinic the reception staff always ask 'if we send a letter to your GP, do you want a copy'. Always say YES.
My hepatologist/gastroenterologist has a secretary who has acess to blood results on her computer. She wont email them to me (confidentiality) but she will send paper copies in the post. Again,I have been told 'oh no we cant fax anything, or email (confidential) and we are trying to go paperless so would rather not print out and send', but again a polite firmness works.
What you cant do is ring up a laboratory direct to try and by-pass the system! Pathology labs doing blood tests are incredibly busy, so be patient. Some of the more unusual ones take longer than the bog-standard FBC/LFT etc.
Which tests should we have? That varies person to person. Someone with diagnosed liver damage should have Liver Function Tests done which cover Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP), Alanine Transaminase (ALT), Bilirubin and Albumin. After that its up to your doctor or specialist depending on what they are trying to diagnose or monitor.