Before you even meet with your doctor for your annual physical or to discuss a medical concern you have, your doctor might have access to crucial information from your blood test. About 50 percent of the information in the average medical chart comes from laboratory data.

Diagnostic test results, including blood tests, inform approximately 70 percent of medical decisions.1

While a blood test is simple for you—with the exception of feeling "a little pinch"—the actual diagnostic process behind the scenes is quite complex, requiring specialized equipment and technicians. Even before your blood is tested, it needs to be properly prepared for the analyzer. It might be spun very fast to separate the blood cells from the fluid portion of the blood, creating a serum or plasma sample. Then the blood analyzer device counts and identifies the shape and size of blood cells, or measures chemical reactions to detect concentrations of certain molecules in blood. Finally, the results are verified by a trained lab professional and returned to your doctor.

“Many patients consider having a blood test to be a simple procedure, but don’t understand what takes place behind the scenes between when the blood is drawn and when the doctor makes a diagnosis,” said Dr. David Spindell, internist and divisional vice president of Medical Affairs, Diagnostic Products, Abbott. “Laboratory blood tests are a vital part of the diagnostic process, helping physicians make the correct diagnosis and determine the appropriate course of treatment.”

Developing cutting-edge blood diagnostic tests and instruments is what Abbott is all about, enabling doctors to provide the best possible care more quickly and accurately.


  • There are more than 100 types of blood tests available.
  • The liquid portion of blood, plasma, constitutes 50-55% of the total blood volume.
  • Some of today’s automated diagnostic blood systems can process about 3,600 tests per hour.

1 The Essentials of Diagnostics whitepaper. DX Insights. January 2012.

Information provided is for general background purposes and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment by a trained professional. You should always consult your physician about any healthcare questions you may have, especially before trying a new medication, diet, fitness program, or approach to healthcare issues.