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FAQs on Medical Testing, Answered

June 28, 2016
medical test

Medical testing isn’t exclusive to hospitals anymore. In fact, more than 6800 urgent care clinics are located throughout the United States to service the 1 billion Americans who suffer from colds each year. To help you determine if testing is right for you, here are a few commonly asked questions to consider.

Can medical tests prevent diseases?
There is a common misconception that medical tests prevent diseases. The truth is, screening tests typically cannot prevent disease. In fact, they can only be considered “preventive” only if used to determine and influence risk factors or detect changes that can develop into a disease.

Are medical screenings harmful?
Like most things in medicine, some tests can be harmful if done too frequently. For example, many medical centers offer x-rays, which expose patients to radiation. For this reason, it is important to understand both the risks and benefits of any medical screenings you are about to receive.

How are the benefits of medical screenings assessed?
Using a series of different scientific methods, trials are performed in order to find out:

  • How reliable the test is
  • The benefits offered by early detection and early treatment
  • How the benefits compare to the risks.

What makes the ideal screening?
In a perfect world, the ideal medical screening would have:

  • All participants who tested positive would be ill
  • Healthy people without illness would not test positive
  • Ill participants would not test negative

Who might benefit from early treatment?
The risk for disease is not the same for everyone. For some, the risk depends on age. Whether or not medical screening is beneficial depends on the person’s specific risk.

Is a negative result good news?
In screenings for medicinal purposes, the terms “positive” and “negative” can have different meanings from their typical definitions. While most think a positive result is good, in the medical field, this means that abnormal results were found. On the contrary, a negative result means that no abnormalities were found.

From fast STD testing to x-rays, university medical centers and urgent care centers provide testing services to over 3 million Americans every week. Understanding medical screenings and their benefits can help you to prepare for what’s next sooner rather than later.