Frequently Asked Questions
After your doctor has written you a request form, there are a number of questions you may have regarding your tests.
While 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.
The collection staff at Melbourne Pathology are extensively trained to ensure a professional visit.
Some of the questions you may have are answered below:
For most tests an appointment is not required and upon arrival at the centre you will be attended to in order.
There are a small number of tests that require an appointment and these are listed in Specialised Test details for each collection centre.
Pathology tests are only eligible for private health insurance rebates if they are taken when you are a hospital in-patient or day-patient.
Please see our billing policies for in-patients and day patients.
Melbourne Pathology has 'no gap' agreements with 35 private health insurance funds, which enables members of these funds to incur no out-of-pocket fees for tests that are eligible for the Medicare rebate.
These agreements provide Melbourne Pathology with a fair and reasonable payment for our professional services. We strive to have agreements with all healthcare funds. Where we don't, it is because we were unable to negotiate the same terms that were acceptable to all other participating funds.
Not all tests require fasting beforehand. However, there are some tests which will require you to fast for 8 - 15 hours, for example cholesterol, lipids, fasting glucose. Fasting should not exceed 15 hours.
We recommend that you fast overnight. You should 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 Melbourne Pathology for advice.
For Glucose Tolerance Test, you must fast for 8-12 hours.
If fasting is required, you should not have anything to eat or drink (except water) for 8 - 15 hours before your test (preferably overnight). Unless advised by your doctor, you should continue to 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 15 hours as prolonged fasting may affect your results.
You will need to bring with you to one of our collection centres a pathology request form/referral - which has been signed by your doctor.
Please bring your Medicare card with you.
If you are on a pension or Health Care card, including Veteran's Affairs, please bring these cards with you. This will help us to bill you correctly.
Your doctor will advise if you are to stop taking your medication. Please check with your doctor if you are unsure.
A blood test involves taking blood from a vein in your arm. Our specimen collection staff are extensively trained in this skill.
It is vital that we make sure all of your personal details are correct. Our collectors will ask for your name, address and date birth and they will also check your contact details, the doctor's details and other questions that are specific to the testing (for example 'Have you fasted for 8 - 12 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.
When your details have been confirmed, the pathology 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 blood 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. The collector will ask you to read the label to confirm that your details have been correctly recorded. Please do not hesitate to tell the collector if there are any errors, including misspelling of your name.
After the blood has been drawn and the needle has been removed, pressure should be applied to the site to minimise bleeding. It is important to maintain this pressure until the bleeding has stopped. A cotton wool ball and/or bandaid will be applied.
If you are aware that you have any allergy 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 your concerns 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 Melbourne Pathology to utilise single use sterile equipment when taking blood samples from patients. No equipment that could cause infection is reused. Our specimen collection staff are 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 at the time of collection and you will be asked to check these labels. Please do not hesitate to tell the collector if you see any errors including misspelling of your name.
A laboratory number (lab ID) is placed on 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 ensure the testing is performed at the highest standard.
All of our collection staff are trained in pathology collection. They learn how to take samples from a range of patients, including those with 'difficult' veins. Ensuring you have drunk adequate water and in the colder weather, keeping yourself warm prior to your visit can assist. Let the staff know about your 'difficult veins' prior to the collection.
Our collection staff are advised to have only two attempts at taking your blood. You may be asked to return at a later time or to attend an alternative collection centre, if we are unsuccessful. Although this may seem inconvenient, the aim is to assist you by ensuring we can collect the samples to perform the tests your doctor has requested.
If you have any concerns about having your sample taken, we encourage you to contact us before attending our collection centres.
Some of our staff are specially trained to collect samples from young 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.
I have recently had major surgery and cannot get to a collection centre. How can I get my test done?
To ensure the highest level of patient care, we encourage all patients to visit their closest collection centre. These are conveniently located across the greater Melbourne area. We also have collection centres in a number of regional centres in Victoria. Collection centre locations are listed on the back of the request form and also found under the Locations tab on this website.
Your doctor may request that our domiciliary collectors visit your home - this is a limited service for those patients with a genuine need and must be requested in advance 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.
You can attend any of the collection centres listed for most tests. Some tests, known as 'specialised' tests can only be performed at specific collection centres.
To find a collection centre that performs the specialised test you require, refer to our Collection Centres Locations page and pick the 'Specialised test' from the drop down list (or navigate to the centre of your choice and select 'Full Detail' to find specialised tests performed at that centre).
These are tests which are performed in collection centres specially equipped to perform the test. Specialised tests commonly require an appointment and instructions. Contact the staff at the centre to arrange the appointment.
How do I know if I need a specialised test?
Check the tests requested by your doctor on your request form.
The list of specialised tests can be found on our collection centres page via the link below. You can search for specialised tests by clicking 'view all filters'.
My doctor has given me a container to collect a sample. How do I deliver this to Melbourne Pathology?
Most samples can be dropped off at any centre. It is important that you have written your full name, your date of birth and the date and time you collected the sample on the outside of the container. Some of our centres have a drop-off box in the waiting area where you can leave your sample, in others you will need to speak with our staff.
With support of the guidelines of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA), Melbourne Pathology believes the primary relationship in the diagnostic process is between the referring doctor and the patient.
We strongly recommend you discuss your results with your doctor to ensure correct interpretation and to facilitate your appropriate medical care, regardless of whether results are normal or abnormal.
In compliance with the Privacy Act, a copy of your results is available on request. The following process applies:
- Requests must be accompanied by a signed ‘Patient authority to release results’ form (link below) which will be kept on file for reference.
- Results will not be released until your own doctor has had an adequate opportunity to initially review them: a two week delay from completion of the final test may be expected.
- The referring doctor will be notified of your request.