Time is our most valuable commodity especially when it comes to healthcare.. Not only does time carry severe importance for patients eagerly awaiting results, but time and proper usage of it can often impact accuracy and quality.

Results can largely only be as clinically useful as they are also relevant. This is seen most in timed tests.

Collecting samples often requires a clinical professional to keep time in mind in several different ways. Specific samples may need to be tested and analyzed within a certain amount of time upon collection, while instructing patients to obey precisely timed restrictions can be a crucial part of the entire collection process.

There are many important clinical tests where intervals of time are vital to maintaining and ensuring accurate results, such as:

  • 5-HIAA – Avoiding foods such as avocados, bananas, pineapples, plums, walnuts, tomatoes, kiwi fruit, and eggplant for three days prior
  • Cortisol – Collection of a saliva sample may require the patient to avoid eating, drinking and brushing teeth prior to testing
  • Creatinine – Overnight fasting and/or avoiding cooked meat beforehand
  • Glucose Tolerance: Periods of fasting and timed meals may be required
  • Lipids Profiles – Fasting for 9-12 hours prior to testing
  • Pap Smear – Not bathing for 24 hours, avoiding any vaginal creams and foam for 48 hours, refraining from sexual intercourse for 24-48 hours, and scheduling the test to avoid one’s menstrual period
  • Urine Cultures – Patient may be asked to not pee one hour prior to or drink water 15-20 minutes prior to sample collection
  • TB Gold – A specific collection kit is required for this test, in addition it must be received at the testing laboratory within 14 hours of draw.  Please call the laboratory to make arrangements to have this test drawn on a Monday thru Thursday basis in order to avoid any potential issue.

As well, several lab tests require observation over intervals of time. With therapeutic drug monitoring, the efficacy of specific drugs may be monitored over timed intervals. This process is best used when trying to assess if a constant concentration of medication is in a patient’s bloodstream.

Proper scheduling is especially important to vancomycin, gentamicin, and tobramycin testing.

Scheduling specimen collection around each TROUGH/PEAK occasion can ensure useful results to be produced

At Aculabs, any blood drawn for such tests that has not been scheduled at least one day in advance of the drug administration will be considered a random test, due to now the limited clinical use of such a sample in monitoring antibiotic levels.