"Getting a test at PathWest"

About: PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA

(as a parent/guardian),

My doctor gave me a referral to PathWest to get a blood test to see if my baby possibly has genes for Coeliac disease. She advised us that the test was non invasive as it was a cheek swab, and therefore required no needles. I stopped in at the testing center at Beaconsfield; the technician told me it was a blood test and didn't know about the cheek swab. I called one of the PathWest branches (Fremantle) to ask if they knew about it and if they had facilities for it. The person answering at first didn't know about the cheek swab, but then transferred me to another person in the hospital. That person did know about the cheek swab, but said that Fremantle didn't have the facilities for it, but Fiona Stanley did. I went to FS and the technicians there also didn't know about the swab. They insisted it didn't exist, that they've been doing this job for x number of years etc. They got their supervisor who also repeated this, I asked her why my GP would refer us to get a test that didn't exist, and why Coeliac Australia referred to it on their website. The supervisor finally called someone else. The end result is that the cheek swab test for coeliac does exist, but many people at PathWest didn't know about it. Basically, the technicians at FS talked me out of it (saying it was complicated and precise) and we got a blood test anyway. I felt that, since the  technicians clearly had no training with doing the swab test that it was best that they didn't administer it.

The overall demeanor of every technician I spoke with was of irritation, in my opinion, as if I was a stupid patient/parent who was wasting their time - a lot of loud exhaling and an air of exasperation. Then when it turned out they had been mistaken, there was no acknowledgment.

I'm not trying to waste anyone's time, but the fact is, the swab test did exist, they just didn't know about it and no one was accountable for all the miscommunication and runaround. It is very likely that my GP will refer more patients to get the same test for their very young children, and I'd hate for them to experience the same thing I did.


Response from Tracy Dixon, A/General Manager, QEII Network, PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA 2 years ago
We are preparing to make a change
Tracy Dixon
A/General Manager, QEII Network,
PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA
Submitted on 20/06/2018 at 18:19
Published on Care Opinion on 21/06/2018 at 11:14

picture of Tracy Dixon

Dear lillypad,

I am sorry to hear of the poor experience you have had attempting to obtain the correct testing for your baby. I am assuming you are referring to the HLA Gene test for HLA DQ2, HLA DQ8 that can assist in the diagnosis of Coeliac disease.

If this is the case I can confirm that we do indeed offer this testing, however it is obvious we need to inform and educate all of our collection staff on some of the less requested tests such as this one.

We do appreciate your feedback, and we will certainly be making some changes to ensure that others do not experience this issue in the future.

Can I please request that you contact me on 08 6457 3169 to provide some more specific information. I would also like to follow up with the staff involved regarding the poor customer service you received, and the fact that your child received an invasive blood collection that was potentially unnecessary.

Kind regards,

Tracy Dixon

  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful

Update posted by lillypad (a parent/guardian)

Dear Tracy,

Thank you for speaking to me on the phone. It was very helpful and pleasant to speak with you. It was wonderful to be assured that my feedback was valuable to PathWest and that you will ensure that communication improves around these tests and that staff have the proper training updates necessary. I'm very satisfied with you and your organisation's response.

Kind Regards,


Updates, changes and questions related to this story