Blood & Specimen Collection

Alpha’s team of dedicated laboratory professionals at our Patient Service Centres (PSCs) are trained to not only address your needs but also to respect your time and make you as comfortable as possible during your visit.

Blood & Specimen Collection FAQ

Although not all blood tests call for fasting prior to blood collection, there are certain types of tests for which fasting is necessary to ensure results are clinically relevant. Types of blood tests that do require fasting include: glucose test, glucose tolerance test (GTT), Lactose and Xylose tolerance tests, cholesterol test, HDL/LDL cholesterol, Triglycerides , Lipoprotein phenotyping and homocysteine.

For further information pertaining to fasting requirements and other preparation, please refer to Patient Preparation Instructions and Test Requirement Manual, or call our Client Services Department at: (416) 449-2166 and press 1 .

Food is broken down into simpler forms (glucose) by the digestive tract and is released into the bloodstream, which then circulates and helps provide energy to the body cells. Therefore, the amount of glucose present in the blood sample after having a large meal will be higher than any other time of the day. Likewise, blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels measured before a meal are lower than the reading taken after a meal. In brief, consuming food before blood collection gives inaccurate results, because the test outcomes are influenced by the type of food and the size of the serving.

Prior to your test, you must not have anything to eat, drink or chew, for a minimum of 12 hours prior to the blood collection. This includes coffee, juice, tea, alcohol, chewing gum, candy or lozenge. You may drink water as usual. Note that there must be absolutely no additives to the water. Please check with your doctor about any medications that you are taking, and do not discontinue your medications unless authorized to do so by your doctor.

You will need to bring a completed laboratory test requisition which has been signed by your doctor, and your health insurance card. If you were asked by your doctor to collect any specimen(s) at home, then also bring those with you at the time of your visit.

We recognize that your time is valuable, so we try to keep wait times as short as possible. Early mornings are usually high volume times so your wait time may be a little longer. We greatly appreciate your patience and understanding as our dedicated staff devotes their full attention to each and every patient. An average visit takes approximately 10 to 20 minutes. Some tests (e.g. oral glucose tolerance test) require that you remain in the Patient Service centre for a longer period to complete blood draws at specific timed intervals.

Most tests do not require an appointment for a blood collection, urine sample collection or Electrocardiogram (ECG).

Tests that do require an appointment include:

  • Holter Monitoring
  • Lactose Tolerance tests
  • Xylose Tolerance tests

If your doctor has ordered the above tests, please use the Patient Service Centre Locator to select the Patient Service Centre that is most convenient for you and phone the location to schedule an appointment.

To locate Alpha’s Patient Service Centres click on Patient Service Centre Locator for a complete listing, including addresses, phone numbers, hours of operation, Google map and directions.

Please note that days and hours of operation vary by location.

If you experience anxiety when having their blood drawn, please do let us in know in advance. Our skilled and experienced staff will do their best to help you to remain as relaxed and comfortable as possible.

How soon your doctor receives your test results depends on the type of tests requested. Routine tests are reported to the referring doctor within 24-48 hours, while certain more specialized tests and bacterial cultures require a much longer processing time. Abnormal or clinically significant results are communicated to your doctor as soon as possible. Please call your doctor’s office to confirm the availability of your test results prior to booking your next appointment.

You may be provided with containers for collection of certain specimens at home (e.g. urine or stool). Please follow the complete instructions available on Patient Specimen Collection Instructions, and label the specimen containers with your first and last name, health card number and date and time of collection. When you deliver the specimens to our Patient Service Centre, please wait for our lab staff to verify all required information on the specimens and laboratory requisition to ensure that the sample is properly identified before you leave.

In Ontario, the majority of routine laboratory tests ordered by your doctor are covered under Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). However, there are certain tests that are not insured through OHIP and such tests must be paid for by the patient.

For tests covered under OHIP click here

For a more comprehensive list of OHIP services click here