Resource Guide for Family Caregivers
Preparing for diagnostic tests

Many diagnostic and other types of test are performed in hospital. Some are done as part of outpatient services and some are performed during either planned or emergency hospital admissions. If your family member is cognitively impaired and not able to provide informed consent on his or her own, you may be required to provide consent for tests. This is why it is important for you to have with you at all time the Enduring Power of Attorney or Representation Agreement documents. If you do not have either of these documents ask the physician to note the care receiver’s cognitive state when booking the test (the consent form). This will frame your involvement for everything from this point on. Stay with the person unless it is necessary to be absent, for example if x-rays are required. You will be needed to explain any unusual behaviour of the patient, or perhaps even speak on his/her behalf.

It is advisable that you and the care receiver get all the facts at the time a test is being recommended. Request information in language you understand and seek clarification of terms you don’t understand. Make sure you take everything necessary with you such as glasses, hearing and walking aids, and protective cases. The following are things you and the person receiving the test will want to know:

  • purpose of the test
  • benefits of the test
  • consequences if the test is not done alternatives to the test, if any
  • clarification of the procedure
  • any risks or pain involved
  • whether the person receiving the test should be accompanied
  • potential costs
  • location and parking
  • type of clothing to wear
  • preparation for the test: restrictions on food, alcohol, exercise, medications, or needing to drink lots of water to come with a full bladder, etc.
  • timeline for getting results
  • if the test is positive, what happens next