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What Does a Positive Urinalysis Mean?

A urine sample.
A urinalysis often involves measuring the pH of urine.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 26 July 2014
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A positive urinalysis is an inspection of a urine sample that yields a positive result for whatever the technician was looking for in the sample. In addition to reporting on whether a result is positive or negative, the technician may also provide information about the concentration of compounds found in the sample, as this information may be relevant to the findings. The report can also discuss the urine pH and other measurements taken during the test to provide a complete profile on the sample.

Positive results may be good or bad, depending on what they show. In the case of a urinalysis for drugs, a positive urinalysis is not desirable, as it indicates the technician found evidence of drug use. Conversely, in a test to determine if a patient is responding to treatment, a positive result might indicate a good concentration of metabolites in the urine, indicating that the kidneys are working properly and the patient is doing better.

At the time a patient gives a urinalysis sample, a technician will affix a tag to the container to track it. In drug testing for employment, sports, and other activities, the samples are carefully controlled to prevent contamination, sample swaps, and other issues. In the lab, the pathologist can subject the sample to a series of tests to check for specific compounds of interest, according to the orders of the doctor.

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When a lab identifies a positive urinalysis result, it carefully documents it and may repeat the test to confirm. This can be important when the result could have substantial implications for the patient, as in the case of a drug test. The lab will report not just the result, but information about who performed the test, when, and where. It is possible to ask to inspect the lab manual to learn more about the procedures used in that facility, and to request a retest if there are doubts or concerns about a positive urinalysis result.

When a doctor requests a urinalysis, she may not report the results to the patient unless they require further action. Patients who want to know about the results should ask the doctor or a staff member like a nurse to call when the results come in to discuss them. In the case of a positive urinalysis, patients usually receive a call to talk about it and may have to come in to the office to discuss their options.

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