The right test at the right time

(Inside Aotea, August 2011)

Karen Wood, Wellington SCL chief executive

Welcome to our winter edition of Inside Aotea. We have noticed a typical increase in winter bugs and viruses over the past few months and have been working hard to quickly get results back to your doctor.

Understandably, people, when ill, are concerned that they are getting the correct tests. We are often asked ‘How do I know what sort of testing I should be getting?’ and ‘Am I getting the right tests?’.

The answer to the first question is that not only is your doctor well-trained to recognise the type of tests you require, but as pathology testing experts we have strong protocols in place to help them choose the most appropriate tests.

As a publicly funded health organisation it is vital that every dollar we spend is value for money -- for our patients’ well-being and for the New Zealand taxpayer.

Central to that is correctly understanding what test is required for any given situation, so your doctor gets the information she or he needs to provide you with the correct remedy.

So -- to answer the second question -- we would say the answer is yes!

We communicate regularly with your doctor to keep him or her up to date with new test developments. We also have written protocols on our website so they can check them against your symptoms and make an informed decision about what test you need.

Our pathologists are freely available so doctors can contact them if they have any queries. In a nutshell, we do everything we can to get it right first time. Your health is too valuable to do otherwise. Public funding, too, is too valuable to waste.

A common test request during the winter is for Vitamin D deficiency.

At this latitude we do not get enough Vitamin D from the sun. The test, though, is expensive and so our protocol says testing is not needed for most people, and there is no harm getting patients straight on to a standard dosage of Vitamin D.

It’s just one example of measures we put in place to more effectively manage your health and the health dollar.

Keep warm over the rest of winter, and we’ll look forward to sharing more news and information with you in the middle of spring.