Should You Look at Your Medical Test Results Early?

Traditionally, test results have been provided by the doctor who ordered them, but today’s technology offers patient portals where test results can be obtained by patients immediately after they’re made available, sometimes even before the doctor sees them. So, there are your test results, sitting there in your chart, waiting for you to look at them. Do you do it, or do you wait for the doctor to give you the results? Even for routine tests, getting the results from your provider directly can mean you get context. Maybe one of your lab values was a bit high, but that’s to be expected given your health issues. Perhaps you see a scary-sounding medical term that turns out to be medical jargon for saying everything was normal. It’s easy to spiral into worry if you see something you think in problematic and you don’t have someone to explain it to you. If you’re like most people, the first person you consult is “Dr. Google.” Unfortunately, by Googling the results, you may end up going down some deep rabbit holes, convincing yourself you either do or don’t have a terrifying medical condition. It may be best to skip this step entirely and wait to find out from your doctor. The important thing to remember is that routine tests usually give routine results. Either your cholesterol is high or it’s not. You can look at the test results and compare your number against the normal range and know right away where you stand. There are, however, times when there are unexpected findings, so you have to be okay with the risk that you might see something confusing or worrying. Even if you’re expecting potentially life-changing news, you may still want to know sooner rather than later. Ultimately, it’s your choice whether you want to look at your test results the second they arrive.