Thanks to new regulations released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, beginning on April 7, 2014 you will be able to directly access your lab tests straight from the lab company. Though many people are able to obtain their lab results directly from their physicians or through an online service, in some cases, patients have had trouble accessing their test results or never received notification of an abnormal test result. This new regulation provides a way for patients to directly contact the lab to find out their results. In order to take advantage of this new policy, you will need to know which lab company your physician sent your tests, so be sure to ask at the time you get your tests done.
Regardless of how you get your lab results, the most important thing is that you make sure to get them and that you learn what the numbers mean. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, are over age 65, or have a family history of kidney disease, you should always check to see how your kidneys are functioning. Ask your physician to order a urinalysis. When you get your lab results, look for your eGFR or your creatinine to albumin ratio. You can also use the eGFR calculator to plug in your numbers to check your kidney function. While this tool will provide you with important health information, it should not be a substitute for your physician’s advice. Make sure to follow up with your doctor and discuss your lab results. If your numbers indicate you have kidney disease, ask him or her to further determine a diagnosis and note it in your medical record. Be sure to also tell any other physician you see that you have kidney disease. This information will help your physician avoid prescribing certain medications that put you at an increased risk for further kidney damage. Also, you may need to change your diet in order to protect your kidneys. You can learn more about how to eat well with kidney disease at www.kidney.org.
Bottom line, get your lab results, know your numbers, follow up with your doctor.