Frequently asked questions

After your doctor has written you a request form, there are a number of questions you may have regarding your tests.

Whilst the majority of our tests are from blood samples, other tests may be performed on samples of tissue, urine, stools (faeces) or other body fluids and secretions. The collection staff at Medlab Central are extensively trained to ensure your collection experience is professional and efficient.

Some of the questions you may have are answered below:

Before the test

You will need to bring a pathology request form which has been signed by your doctor.

Not all tests require fasting beforehand. However, there are some tests which will require you to fast for 10–16 hours, for example, cholesterol, lipids, fasting glucose. Fasting should not exceed 16 hours.

For these tests, we recommend that you fast overnight. You can drink water during this time and take any medication you would normally take, unless advised otherwise by your doctor. Your doctor will inform you of any tests that require fasting or you may contact the laboratory for advice.

If fasting is required, you should not have anything to eat or drink (with the exception of water) for 10–16 hours before your test. You may drink water only.

Unless advised by your doctor, you should take all regular medication.

If you are diabetic or have any concerns, please contact your doctor before fasting.

Please notify us if you have fasted for longer than 12 hours as prolonged fasting may affect your results.

Your doctor will advise if you are to stop taking your medication. Please check with your doctor if you are unsure.

About the test and collection

A blood test involves taking blood from a vein in your arm. Our specimen collection staff are extensively trained in this skill. All of our equipment is sterile.

It is vital that we make sure all of your personal details are correct. Our staff will ask for your name and date of birth and they will also check your contact details, the doctor’s details and ask other questions that are specific to the testing (for example "Have you fasted for 10–16 hours?").

It is important that we obtain all of this information on each occasion, even if you are a regular patient, to ensure that we have the correct information on our records. It is helpful if you can let us know if you have moved. This will assist us to maintain one consistent record on each patient.

Once your details have been confirmed, the collector will examine your arm to find a suitable vein. If you feel uncomfortable, please do not hesitate to inform our collector. You may prefer to lie down if you are feeling faint or nervous. Once a suitable vein is found, the collector will cleanse the skin with an alcohol swab and then insert a sterile needle into your vein to obtain the sample.

Different tubes are required for different types of tests, so there may be more than one tube of blood collected. All tubes will be labelled with your name and date of birth.

After the blood has been drawn and the needle has been removed, pressure should be applied to the site to minimise bleeding. A cotton wool ball and/or bandaid will be applied. If you are aware of any allergic reactions to alcohol swabs or tapes, please let our collector know and we will find an alternative.

It is important that you avoid heavy lifting or strenuous exercise in the following 24 hours to avoid bruising or bleeding.

If you have any concerns at all, please do not hesitate to contact us prior to attending one of our collection centres or discuss them with our collectors.

Our collection staff are extensively trained and will endeavour to make you feel at ease. We encourage you to lie down for the procedure if you are feeling uncomfortable. Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, may also prove helpful. Please inform our collection staff if you are feeling nervous or anxious so that we may assist you with the procedure.

Your doctor has requested the pathology tests to be carried out. If you are concerned about the necessity of these tests, we encourage you to discuss this with your doctor.

No, it is the policy of Medlab Central to utilise single-use sterile equipment when taking blood samples from patients.

No equipment is reused and our specimen collection staff are fully trained in infection control.

As tests vary, the collectors will give you written instructions on how to collect the sample. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Our collection staff will confirm your details with you at every visit. This is to ensure we have all the correct information. Each sample is carefully labelled after collection. A laboratory number is given to your request form and samples to ensure they are not mixed up. This number is unique and assists to ensure that the correct tests are performed on each sample. We have other checks in place throughout the testing procedure to assure testing is performed at the highest possible standard.

All of our collection staff are trained to take samples from a comprehensive range of patients, including those with 'difficult' veins.

Our collection staff are advised to only have two attempts at taking your blood. You may be requested to return at a later time if we are unsuccessful. Although this may seem inconvenient, it aims to reduce the risk of any problems and minimise discomfort for our patients.

If you have any concerns about having your sample taken, we encourage you to contact us before attending our centres.

Some of our staff are specially trained to collect samples from small children under six years of age. If you are bringing your child along for a blood test, we would suggest that you contact us to enquire if an appropriately experienced collector will be available at the centre you are intending to visit.

To ensure the highest level of patient care, we encourage all patients to visit their closest collection centre. 

Your doctor may request that our domiciliary collectors visit your home – this is a limited service for those patients with a genuine need.

After the collection

Your specimen will be picked up and delivered by courier to the laboratory for testing. The results of your pathology test are then sent to your doctor and other doctors involved in your care (as nominated by your doctor).

Routine test results are generally available within 2–3 days of collection. However, some testing is more involved and may take longer. To assist you in organising an appointment with your doctor, we encourage you to ask your doctor when the results will be available.

We are continually seeking to improve the service we provide to our doctors, patients and the community.

Should you have any concerns about the service you received at your collection centre, there are formal procedures in place to provide feedback.

You can phone (06) 952 3180 or write directly to:

Medlab Central
PO Box 293
Palmerston North 4410

Alternatively, you can complete our online feedback form.

We appreciate and encourage feedback from our customers, in order to continually improve our services. If we are unaware of your issues of concern, we are unable to take steps to prevent a recurrence.

Statistical data of all feedback is gathered and analysed with strict adherence to the anonymity of the source, for the sole purpose of evaluating and improving the way we do things.