Arizona doctors urge caution against DIY medical tests

Posted at 10:04 PM, Apr 29, 2018

At home, do it yourself testing is becoming the latest trend in medicine, leading some medical experts to urge caution.

Many types of tests are easily accessible, from drug tests to allergy and fertility testing.

Phoenix family physician Dr. Natasha Bhuyan said she likes to see her patients engaged in their health, but advises treading carefully when it comes to buying at-home tests.

"A result that looks normal might still be abnormal for you," she said. "Things like blood pressure monitoring, blood sugar monitoring, those things are pretty straight-forward and easy to interpret, but cholesterol testing is not as 'black and white.'"

This year, two Arizona State University students created a do-it-yourself pap smear test, giving women the power to take an intimate test in the comfort of their own home.

Dr. Bhuyan said some self-tests are more prone to error than others.

"Pap smears and strep swabs really rely on the accuracy of collection specimen, so if you're getting a great swab of the throat that is fine, but do you know you are?" Dr. Bhuyan said. 

At-home tests can range from a few bucks to a few hundred.

In some cases, DIY tests are more convenient and cost-effective, but often, seeing a doctor is still the safest bet.

"Before you order any at-home test, ask yourself what you are going to do with the results," Dr. Bhuyan explained. "Why did you order the test and spend the money if it's not going to change or improve your life?"