What happens if NHS lab can't process blood test?

One of the few advantages, indeed perhaps the only one, of having an endo who does not recognise hypothyroidism when it is staring him in the face, is that you get a good work up while he tries to find other reasons for your symptoms.

I had blood drawn on 26 March for two tests. The result of the cortisol test was back within a couple of days. No problem. My GP thought the IGF-1 test might take a little longer. Fair enough.

Easter came and went and I called my GP again for the result. Nothing. When it wasn't back the following week, so three weeks after the blood draw, I called the Path Lab. Apparently the re-agent they need to do this test has been recalled and they have frozen my blood sample pending receipt of some more re-agent, but have no idea when this might be.

I contacted PALS (that's a story in itself) and they are now making enquiries on my behalf, but I wondered whether anyone has had experience of this or knows what the NHS process should be when a sample goes into a lab which is unable to process it.

Thanks in anticipation.


4 Replies

  • A good question which you, as a patient, should never have needed to ask.

    I am going to guess it could be related to this:


    In my book, you were quite right to get in touch with PALS and the lab.

    I do not know enough about testing to have any idea if another kit/reagent system is available. Maybe other labs use them? Or maybe this is the only one on the market. If so, perhaps a sample could be sent to a lab which uses that different kit/reagant?

    You are going to have to ask PALS and/or the lab whether this can be done.


  • I knew GPs ordered tests that are not done by labs (to save money) so good your Endo is doing extras! May I ask why he did the IGF-1 test? as it can one of the many indicators for diabetes or for pituitary function (growth hormone) well that's just what I've read anyway and want to know why too (as my Dad had acromegaly and I think IGF-1 is significant).

    Sorry I've not heard of them freezing a sample before, frustrating! but my knowledge is very limited, just learning too, I'm glad PALS are looking into it for you, please let us know the outcome. Jane :D

  • You could ask your endo to send the sample to a different hospital lab. It is awkward but not impossible.

  • Thanks peeps.

    This endo wrote to me when my results were TSH 4.2 (0.35-6), FT4 10.2 (9-26) and FT3 3.8 (2.8-7) to say that he was struggling to find a reason for my symptoms (!), so he is going to do a full pituitary work up, but he wanted to do IGF-1 first.


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