How to Read and Understand Medical Blood Lab Test Results

There are a few basics to reading and understanding a medical lab blood test. The name of the specific test performed may be an acronym and be abbreviated. Some results may be quantitative (when a substance is being measured) and some results may be qualitative (such as a positive or negative result.) Lab tests will often highlight results that are abnormal or outside the expected range of results.

Fast Facts:

  • Lab test results typically contain a number along with a unit of measurement, ex. 22 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).
  • It is possible to have results outside the reference range of typical results and not have a medical issue/problem.
  • There are many factors that can interfere with test results including not following the preparation instructions, caffeine, vitamins, smoking and stress.