Why Would a Doctor Order a Blood Panel?

Meshell Powell

A doctor may order a blood panel as part of a routine examination or to help confirm a suspected diagnosis. A basic blood panel may be conducted to test for medical conditions such as anemia, leukemia, or the presence of a bacterial infection. A chemistry panel is a more detailed type of blood panel and may be used to detect problems with the liver, kidneys, or thyroid gland. Electrolytes, metabolism, and problems with the pancreas may also be tested through the use of the chemical panel.

Blood panels can be used in routine examinations, or to confirm a suspected diagnosis.
Blood panels can be used in routine examinations, or to confirm a suspected diagnosis.

A complete blood count is the name of the most common blood panel ordered by doctors. This blood test checks red and white blood cell counts and measures hemoglobin, platelet, and hematocrit levels. These tests are often routinely performed once or twice per year, although they may also be indicated if certain illnesses are suspected.

A high red blood cell count may indicate heart or lung disease.
A high red blood cell count may indicate heart or lung disease.

Red blood cell counts and white blood cell counts are tested through the use of a routine blood panel. A high red blood cell count may indicate heart or lung disease, anabolic steroid use, or dehydration. Low red blood cell counts typically indicate a condition known as anemia, caused by insufficient oxygen levels. Lowered hematocrit levels may suggest internal bleeding or hemorrhage somewhere in the body and often requires further testing.

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Many possible diagnoses are best confirmed through blood testing.
Many possible diagnoses are best confirmed through blood testing.

Platelets are responsible for blood clotting and help prevent excessive bleeding when there is an injury that results in blood loss. Elevated platelet levels may be harmless or may indicate the presence of a serious medical condition called myeloproliferative disorder. Decreased platelets may be caused by leukemia, lupus, or kidney disease.

A doctor may order a blood panel to confirm a diagnosis.
A doctor may order a blood panel to confirm a diagnosis.

A chemistry panel may be ordered by a doctor to test for serious illnesses such as liver or kidney failure, electrolyte imbalances, or thyroid problems. If kidney problems are suspected, this blood panel may be used to check creatinine or blood urea nitrogen levels. The liver panel monitors bilirubin, protein, and albumin. Sodium, potassium, and calcium levels are tested using an electrolyte panel. Thyroid hormones may be checked to help diagnose conditions such as hypothyroidism.

A doctor can explain what a patient's blood panel indicates.
A doctor can explain what a patient's blood panel indicates.

In specific cases, additional blood panel types may be ordered by a physician. Fertility panels may be performed to evaluate reproductive health issues. More in-depth blood tests may be performed to test for cancer or heart problems or to confirm results from other blood tests. Any questions or concerns about a specific type of blood panel should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

A diagram showing different types of white blood cells. A blood panel can provide a white blood cell count.
A diagram showing different types of white blood cells. A blood panel can provide a white blood cell count.
Multiple blood samples may be drawn in order to screen for as many illnesses as possible.
Multiple blood samples may be drawn in order to screen for as many illnesses as possible.
A blood panel typically includes several diagnostic blood tests.
A blood panel typically includes several diagnostic blood tests.

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Discussion Comments

Rotergirl

I have bloodwork on a regular basis, too. I really hate going in fasting, so I usually go in early in the morning.

Here's a tip: drink a bottle of water before you go for bloodwork. It will help "plump" up your veins so the tech can get a vein easier.

Most doctors do order blood work on at least a yearly basis, but if the physician orders a blood panel outside of the normal schedule, it's probably because he or she suspects something is up. It may not be bad, necessarily, just something they need to know about.

Always ask questions about why the blood is needed and what the doctor is looking for. And always make a follow up appointment to discuss the results. Don't try to interpret them yourself.

Pippinwhite

A decent doctor orders a complete blood panel, including chemistry on his or her patients at least once a year. This will help the doctor hopefully identify issues before they become serious.

Every woman, especially, ought to have a thyroid blood panel every year, and everyone needs a chemistry panel to check cholesterol, Vitamins D and B12 levels, liver and kidney function. As far as I'm concerned, that's just what a responsible, caring doctor does.

I have a complete work up every three months for my blood sugar, kidney and liver function and thyroid. I'm pretty much used to it now, and I know it helps keep me honest where my health is concerned. Blood work doesn't lie.

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