At-Home Lab Tests: What Do You Need to Know?

Some simple math and basic biology will save you from making the wrong decisions.

René F. Najera, MPH, DrPH
Microbial Instincts

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Image of a clean and well-organized laboratory with various equipment including microscopes, machines, and bottles on the counters and shelves.
Is this what your kitchen counter will look like soon? (Photo by Trnava University on Unsplash)

The Washington Post reports that more people are choosing to skip going to their healthcare provider. Instead of paying for an office visit, and then a laboratory test and its associated fees, patients are turning to start-ups offering testing for diseases and conditions like food allergies, respiratory infections, menopause, or urinary tract infections.

Long gone are the days where the most complex test you could buy at a pharmacy was a pregnancy test.

Why at home? Why not a lab?

There are some tests considered safe to use at home. Some are regulated, some are not. Some can be done at a doctor’s office, others need to be performed at a reference lab. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a handy database of tests to check their complexity and testing requirements.

The issue with these new at-home tests is that they are unregulated. They’re either too new to be evaluated by the FDA and other agencies, or the manufacturers have decided not to submit them for evaluation.

It’s like homeopathy, where manufacturers might think they are protected through a disclaimer: “These products are not

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René F. Najera, MPH, DrPH
Microbial Instincts

DrPH in Epidemiology. Public Health Instructor. Father. Husband. "All around great guy."