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After hours labs for sickle cell patients


What are after-hours labs?

After-hours labs allow your child to have blood samples taken after 5 p.m. on weekdays and on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. We hope this will make the process easier for your child and your family.

Lab only visits must be scheduled in advance, and your child will not see a doctor during the lab only visit.

What is the process for after-hours labs?

  • During your child’s clinic visit, the medical team will ask if you would like to have your child’s next lab only visit scheduled outside regular working hours. 
  • If you agree, the team will put in the order for an agreed-upon date and time after-hours.
  • Also, the medical team will order your child’s hydroxyurea refill on the same date as the lab only visit.
  • At this lab only visit, you will need to do the following:
    • If you arrive between 5–9 p.m.:  Go to Patient Registration and make sure to give an up-to-date telephone number. Then, go to the Medicine Room for the lab visit. After the blood sample is taken, go to the Pharmacy to get your child’s medicine, and then you can go home. You will not see a doctor or clinician during this visit.
    • If you arrive after 9 p.m.: Go directly to the Medicine Room. The staff will register your child and take the blood sample in the Medicine Room. After the blood sample is taken, go to the Pharmacy to get your child’s medicine, and then you can go home. You will not see a doctor or clinician during this visit.

What happens if my child’s blood counts are low?

For patients on hydroxyurea, the most important blood count that is checked is the absolute neutrophil count (ANC). If the ANC level is below 500, the hematologist will call you after the visit because it could be dangerous for your child to continue taking hydroxyurea with a low ANC. The hematologist will adjust the medicine dose or may tell you to stop taking hydroxyurea for a period of time. That is why it is important to give an up-to-date telephone number during registration so the hematologist can reach you if needed.  

How will the team decide who can be scheduled for after-hours labs?

The medical team decides whether your child can have lab only visits. Several factors go into the decision:

  • Whether your child’s hydroxyurea level is stable,
  • Whether your child needs to see a clinician during visits, and
  • Whether your child regularly keeps appointments.  

Do I need to come to the lab only visit at the scheduled time? 

Yes. If your child does not arrive at the scheduled time, the staff will cancel the visit. If you miss several after-hours visits, you will no longer be able to schedule these lab only visits.     

Will I see a doctor when I come in for a lab only visit?

No. You will not see a doctor or any member of the Hematology team. If your child is sick, you should follow the process for acute care visits. Talk to your nurse case manager if you need more details about the acute care visit process.  


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

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