Frequently asked questions
After your doctor has written you a request form, there are a number of questions you may have regarding your tests.
Whilst 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 and secretions.
The collection staff at Douglass Hanly Moir Pathology are extensively trained to ensure your collection experience is professional and efficient.
Some of the questions you may have are answered below:
Before the test
You will need to bring a pathology request form which has been signed by your doctor.
If you are on a Pension or Health Care card, you should bring your Medicare card with you. You will also need to show your Health Care or Veterans' Affairs card. This will enable us to bill you correctly.
Not all tests require fasting beforehand. However, there are some tests which will require you to fast for 10–12 hours, for example, cholesterol, lipids, fasting glucose. Fasting should not exceed 12 hours.
For these tests, we recommend that you fast overnight. You can 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 Douglass Hanly Moir Pathology for advice.
For further information on fasting for specific tests, plesae also see our pre-test collection instructions.
If fasting is required, you should not have anything to eat or drink (with the exception of water) for 10–12 hours before your test. Unless advised by your doctor, you should 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 12 hours as prolonged fasting may affect your results.
Your doctor will advise if you are to stop taking your medication. Please check with your doctor if you are unsure.
You do not need to make an appointment for most blood tests. However, an appointment is required for more complex procedures, such as short synacthen stimulation testing, and 24-hour blood pressure and cardiac monitoring. To make an appointment, or to check if you need one, contact your local collection centre.
If you are infirm or too unwell to attend a collection centre, your doctor may request a home visit for you. Please note this service is restricted to patients who are unable to attend a collection centre for medical reasons, and eligibility is subject to assessment and must be requested by a doctor. Home visits cannot be initiated by patients directly to our staff.
Opening hours of collection centres vary and are subject to change.
We advise that you visit our locations page to check individual collection centre opening hours prior to attending a room.
The busiest time at many collection centres is early in the morning. To minimise your waiting time, it is preferable to attend after midday where possible, especially if you do not need to fast for your test.
Patients are generally seen in order of arrival. However, some procedures require appointments and timing can be important for some tests. On occasions, these patients may be seen out of order of arrival.
The length of time taken to complete each pathology procedure varies with each patient, and with the type of test that has been ordered by the doctor or specialist. Some tests, such as ECG and Glucose Tolerance Tests, are more complex than venepuncture (blood test) and, therefore, may take more than 20 minutes to complete. If the patient ahead of you is having one of the more complex tests, this may impact on your waiting time.
Our staff treat each patient as an individual with specific needs. Our procedures have been designed to ensure that we are able to obtain a suitable specimen that will yield accurate and timely results. We know that you understand the importance of this, and ask for your patience in instances where you are required to wait for your pathology testing.
In some cases, there may be a less busy DHM collection centre nearby. Look out for a sign in the waiting room. In some cases, patients may have specimens they have collected at home. It is essential that these specimens are correctly labelled with your full name, date of birth and date and time of collection. If labelling is incomplete or incorrect, the specimen may have to be re-collected.
About the test and collection
A blood test involves taking blood from a vein in your arm.
It is vital that we make sure all of your personal details are correct. Our staff will ask for your name and date of 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 10–12 hours?"). Please let our staff know if you are on a Pension or Health Care card.
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.
Once your details have been confirmed, the 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 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.
After the blood has been drawn and the needle has been removed, pressure should be applied to the site to minimise bleeding. A cotton wool ball and/or bandaid will be applied. If you are aware of any allergic reactions 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 them with our collectors.
Our collection staff 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.
If you are in hospital, your doctor may request a pathology test on specimens such as blood, urine, faeces, a wound or tissue obtained surgically.
If your doctor requires a blood test, one of our collectors or your nurse will collect your blood. For other specimens, such as urine, faeces or swabs, your nurse will assist you with collection, or one of our collectors may give you instructions to self-collect your sample.
Sometimes, during an operation, your doctor will collect a specimen such as a sample of tissue.
If you are not in hospital, your doctor or nurse may collect your specimen at their clinic, or they may refer you to one of our collection centres, where our trained staff will collect your specimen.
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.
For further information on specific tests, plesae also see our pre-test collection instructions.
All of our collection staff are trained to take samples from a comprehensive range of patients, including those with 'difficult' veins.
Our collection staff are advised to only have two attempts at taking your blood. You may be requested to return at a later time if we are unsuccessful. Although this may seem inconvenient, it aims to reduce the risk of any problems and minimise discomfort for our patients.
If you have any concerns about having your sample taken, we encourage you to contact us before attending our centres.
Some of our staff are specially trained to collect samples from small 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.
To ensure the highest level of patient care, we encourage all patients to visit their closest collection centre. These are conveniently located in metropolitan and regional areas of NSW, and are listed on the back of the request form.
Your doctor may request that our domiciliary collectors visit your home – this is a limited service for those patients with a genuine need.
DHM are committed to keeping our patients informed. Having your blood collected is a very safe procedure, however, as your skin is punctured there is a small risk of a complication occurring. Please read the following before you consent to having your blood test.
Complications related to patient conditions
1. Haematoma (bruising)
Haematoma (lump or a bruise) is the most common complication of venepuncture. It is caused by blood leaking into the tissue during or after venepuncture and identified by swelling at or near the venepuncture site. A haematoma is painful and can result in quite severe bruising and, in severe cases, can cause compression injuries to nerves.
It is very important that pressure is adequately applied to the site after the needle is removed.
Do not do any lifting for the remainder of the day. Follow the post-test instructions.
2. Allergies to antiseptics and adhesives
Occasionally, a patient is allergic to the antiseptic (alcohol) used in the skin preparation prior to the venepuncture (blood test). If this is the case, it is quite safe not to use any antiseptic at all. Some patients are allergic to bandaids. In this case, an alternative product may be used.
If you are aware of such an allergy to bandaids or tape, please inform the person attending to your blood test.
3. Allergies to latex
An increasing number of individuals are developing sensitivity to latex. Most are seemingly minor and involve irritation or rashes from physical contact with latex products, such as gloves. Others are so severe that being in the same room where latex materials are used can set off a life-threatening reaction.
If you have a known latex sensitivity, it is very important to inform the person attending to your blood test so that appropriate measures can be taken to ensure a latex-free environment.
4. Post-test bleeding
Normally, you will stop bleeding from the venepuncture site within a few minutes. Some patients, particularly those on anticoagulant therapy (blood thinning medication), may take longer to stop bleeding. It is important to maintain adequate pressure over the site until the bleeding has ceased.
Do not attempt to lift any heavy objects or put stress on your arm for 24 hours after your test or you risk developing a haematoma (see above).
Some patients become faint at the thought of, or sight of their blood being drawn, especially if they are not feeling well. Prior to your blood test, it is very important to inform the collector if you have been fasting for a long time, if you feel faint or if you have a history of fainting. If the collector is made aware of the likelihood of fainting, precautions can and will be taken. Your collector will ask you to lie down for the blood test, which will reduce the chance of fainting.
If you are feeling unwell, have been fasting for a long time or have a history of fainting, make sure your collector knows prior to your test.
It is rare, but possible, for patients to experience a seizure or convulsion during a blood test.
If you have a history of seizures or convulsions, please make sure that the collector is aware prior to the blood test.
7. Nerve damage
Although rare, having a blood test can result in nerve damage. If you move your arm suddenly as the needle is inserted, this can cause the needle to displace and can lead to injury of a main nerve. If minor nerve damage occurs, it should resolve spontaneously over a period of days, however, if the injury is to a main nerve, it can, in some instances, result in permanent injury.
It is very important to keep your arm very still when having a blood test.
If you experience severe pain, numbness of the arm or pain radiating down your arm, alert the collector immediately and the needle will be withdrawn. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any concerns.
You can expect a small amount of pain when having a blood test. If you are experiencing moderate to severe pain, alert your collector immediately and the blood test will be terminated.
If you experience more than mild pain during your blood test, alert the collector immediately and the test will be terminated.
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 after collection. A laboratory number is given to 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 assure testing is performed at the highest possible standard.
After the collection
Your specimen will be picked up and delivered by courier to the laboratory for testing. The results of your pathology test are then sent to your doctor and other doctors involved in your care (as nominated 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.
The billing procedure for pathology testing is a complex process that is dependent on a number of variables, including whether the test is fully rebatable by Medicare and whether it needs to be referred to another laboratory. We aim to be fair and reasonable with our fee structure. Fees are set as low as possible within the bounds of providing a high quality, comprehensive pathology service. You should be aware that you may be invoiced an out-of-pocket fee, depending on the tests your doctor has ordered for you.
Fees fall into two main categories:
Patients will be charged an out-of-pocket fee, up to a capped amount, regardless of the number or complexity of tests ordered on each referral, as long as all of the tests are rebatable under Medicare. We are committed to keeping this fee as low as possible.
Please note that some tests are not covered under the Medicare schedule, and all patients are liable for the full cost of these tests with no Medicare rebate. These non-rebatable tests will be charged as an additional fee.
Direct bill Medicare for all rebatable tests
DHM will directly bill Medicare for all Pensioner Card and Health Care cardholders (Commonwealth Senior Health Card is excluded).
We will also directly bill the Department of Veterans’ Affairs for all Veterans’ Affairs gold cardholders. If your pathology relates to a Work Cover or Transport Accident Commission claim, or to a pre-employment or insurance request, your account may be sent directly to those organisations, if sufficient information is available.
Please note that some tests are not covered under the Medicare schedule, and all patients are liable for the full cost of these tests with no Medicare rebate.
Please note that in some cases, tests may be sent to a reference laboratory who may also issue an individual account.
Please contact our Accounts Department on (02) 9855 5500 if you require further information on your pathology account.
We are continually seeking to improve the service we provide to our doctors, patients and the community.
Should you have any concerns about the service you received at your collection centre, there are formal procedures in place to provide feedback.
You can phone (02) 9855 5097 or write directly to:
Douglass Hanly Moir Pathology
Patient Services Department
Locked Bag 145 North Ryde NSW 2113
Alternatively, you can complete our online feedback form.
Your feedback or issues of concern will be taken up by the relevant department representative. Alternatively, you can complete a Feedback Form which will be forwarded to the Quality Manager for action and feedback (these are usually available in our collection centres or online).
We appreciate and encourage feedback from our customers, in order to continually improve our services. If we are unaware of your issues of concern, we are unable to take steps to prevent recurrence.
Statistical data of all feedback is gathered and analysed with strict adherence to anonymity of the source, for the sole purpose of evaluating and improving the way we do things.
We are committed to maintaining patient privacy and confidentiality and comply with medical ethics and all relevant privacy legislation.
The security of your personal and medical information is maintained under the new Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 and any subsequent relevant legislation. Your test results will only be forwarded to those doctors who are responsible for your treatment and nominated by the referring doctor. The Patient Services staff are also guided by the legislation and you can be confident that all aspects of your patient episode will be treated with the utmost confidentiality.
We need to obtain your details and information in order to provide you with reliable results and your doctor with helpful advice. Most information is collected at the time that a pathology referral is written out by your doctor. Your doctor will generally explain why he or she is recording the information and where it is going. When you visit a pathology collection centre and more information is required, we will seek your approval to collect that information.
During the course of your procedure, you may be asked repetitive questions about the spelling of your name and address. This unique identification system is used to ensure the right test is matched up with the right patient. Although it may appear to be an onerous method, this commitment to accuracy helps to avoid the need for patients to come back for re-collection of their specimens.
We recommend that you receive your pathology results in consultation with your doctor, to ensure they are explained in the context of your health care and personal situation.
The safety and security of our staff and patients are of paramount importance to us. We have a legal obligation, under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, to ensure the safety and security of staff and patients alike.
Each of our collection centres undergoes an accreditation audit every three years to ensure compliance with policies and procedures. The internal and external environment is also checked to identify any potential hazards. The Quality and WHS Departments conduct routine risk assessments, or when an issue of concern has been identified. If any WHS issues are identified, they are actioned within a designated time frame by the appropriate personnel.
Anyone who works for DHM or who uses our services or facilities has the right to be and feel safe at our premises. We do not tolerate threatening, intimidating, abusive or violent behaviour from anyone under any circumstances. Our staff are advised to refuse service to, and to report anyone who engages in any of the above activities or behaviours.
Such activity or behaviour will result in action being taken, which may include:
– Notification to police or security services and the initiation of legal action
– Withdrawal of services being provided by DHM
– Ejection of offenders from our premises
It is never acceptable to abuse others.
The way in which the Patient Services Department staff conduct themselves is very important. We expect the staff to be well groomed, efficient and professional at all times in their dealings with patients. If you consider that any staff member behaves in a manner that is unacceptable, please let us know.
We also welcome staff compliments and commendations. If you have had a positive experience that you would like to share with us, please follow the same protocols by writing to us at:
Douglass Hanly Moir Pathology
Patient Services Department
Locked Bag 145 North Ryde NSW 2113