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Different labs produce different blood test results

In the UK, equipment and testing methods can vary from lab to lab and reference ranges differ between different populations, so blood test reference ranges may vary too.

Confusion with patients interpreting blood test results

If a blood test result falls outside a reference range this does not automatically indicate there is a disease requiring treatment as a reference range does not necessarily mean a ‘normal’ range.

Natural variations

When a collection of people who are considered ‘normal’ are used to work out a reference range for a certain blood test the reference range will vary from laboratory to laboratory.  A complex equation is then used to allow for natural variation within this collection of people and the reference range will be adjusted accordingly.

Other variations

When reviewing blood test results another complicating factor is when ‘false’ positive results and ‘false’ negative results are presented.  Often blood test results need to be interpreted alongside other blood test results undertaken to get a fuller picture of what’s occurring and these frequently need to be repeated as they can be affected by other factors.

Further affecting factors

Blood test results can also be affected by the following:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Time of day the blood test is taken
  • Whether the patient has eaten or not

Given the above, a clinician who is familiar with a given laboratory’s reference ranges and disease process should review all blood test results.

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