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At-Home Medical Test Cannot Replace Doctor's Appointment

Armen Hareyan's picture

Home medical tests

Leave the do-it-yourself approach to home repairs. At-home medical tests can't replace a trip to the doctor, say experts at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

Home medical tests sold over the counter and on the Internet should not keep patients from visiting a doctor for diagnosis, said Dr. Clifford Dacso, a professor of medicine at Baylor.

Some examples of at-home medical tests claim to detect thyroid abnormalities, diabetes, male infertility, pregnancy, drug presence, HIV and a number of other ailments.

The main problem with at-home medical tests is misinterpretation. People who take these tests must consider false positives and false negatives as well as the sensitivity of the testing environment and variance in how directions are followed.

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"A controlled environment is necessary if you take the do-it-yourself approach," Dacso said. "These tests only work under the most optimal conditions and with qualified supervision."

If a patient suspects he or she has a disease such as Alzheimer's, further patient care such as counseling or education is necessary.

Dasco says the tests are popular because individuals believe they provide information that a physician is not willing to share.

"People are under the misconception that doctors have a secret body of diagnosis knowledge that we do not share," Dacso said. "It simply is not true that doctors have a code of silence that forbids us to share information with patients."