What is The Meaning of Flag A Near Some Blood Test Results? (WBC, RBC, PLT, Hgb, MCV, RDW, Glucose, BhCG)

Medical laboratories take a distinct approach to organize the writing of medical reports in a way that ensures easy reading and maximize the benefits from the laboratory results. Among the ways to facilitate writing and reading the laboratory reports are abbreviations that make the medical report understandable with the least amount of writing.


We have discussed before the meaning of the letter “L” before platelets, you can understand it from here; understand the Flag L on Platelets.
We have discussed before the significance of the letter “H” before the result of platelets, from here we can understand the meaning of “H” on platelets.

And here, we clarify the meaning of the mark ” A ” that is placed near the test result and sometimes placed before any result.

you may know that the flag or the mark is used in order to draw the attention of the reader of the laboratory report that there is a difference in this result to be flagged from the rest of the results written in the final report. And if the result is normal, it is not necessary to put a distinctive sign such as the letter “ A ” before the number that expresses the result of your test . But if the result is abnormal, some medical reports distinguish it by adding the letter “ A ” next to the result that is outside the human healthy level to alarm the reader “it’s an Abnormal result”.

The image below educate you how to read the CBC test report that include some results flagged with the letter “A” as an example.

Example: demonstration the flag “A” near the CBC lab test results

Which test results that should be marked with the letter “A” ?

Did you know before how the laboratory report is written? the lab result consists of three pieces , the first on the left of the report is the name of the test that was done, the second in the middle is dedicated to the result that appeared when doing the test, and the third is used to write down the normal levels that the patient’s result must correspond with so that we can say that the test result is normal and don’t represent an issue .

Therefore, any result that is not within this known normal range, a distinctive mark must be placed near it for easy identification.

If you want to know what is the meaning of abnormal labs, you may go here, Understand the Abnormal Lab Results.

Which lab test should flagged by “A”?

Examples of tests that the laboratory puts a distinction “ A ” next to it:

  • Total white blood count test (WBC or TLC) , tells us how many white blood cells are circulating in the bloodstream , if the number is greater than the highest normal number for a human being it’s called leukocytosis , and if the number is less than it’s called leukocytopenia or leucopenia, both conditions are considered an abnormal WBC result and must be flagged by the notation “ A ” accompanying the number of the result.
  • Test of the red blood cell count “RBCs” , when the number that was measured in the laboratory is within the normal range for each age, it means that there is no problem with the red blood cells count , but if the number of red blood cells for the patient’s sample is less ( Erythropenia ) or higher ( polycythemia ) than normal levels Specific for each age, the medical report flagging the result by adding the mark “ A ” to the number.

Examples of lab that may not got the notation “A” sign near the result?

  • Quantitative pregnancy test or BhCG test : This test does not have a normal range, as the goal of the test is to know the gestation days and viability of the new fetus in the mother’s womb, and therefore the resulting number after doing the test is not described as being normal or abnormal in the first place , and therefore it does not the result that must be marked with such signs that aim to show results that are inconsistent with the healthy range . There is a full page that explains about the letters used to distinguish the result of a quantitative pregnancy test. Provide your information about it there .

Which are abnormal results that don’t flagged by “A”?

Examples of abnormal test results, but the distinctive abnormal mark “A” is not shown around them:

  • The infectious viruses such as C virus, B virus and AIDS virus : The presence of the virus in a blood sample is expressed by the word “ Positive”, and therefore, the result may accompanied by a flag sign near it to confirm that the patient is infected with the virus, but sometimes has a different sign ” a star or an asterisk”, a star-shaped character (*) similar to that used in some books to indicate a cross-reference to a footnote, this sign” is a substitute to the flags of the type “letter” when the result isn’t in numbers .

Here we tried to write down the most common labs that are performed and reported with flag or alert of the type “A” and to clarify the importance of the distinction that the laboratory makes about your lab results, but if you want more clarification on how to read your own results, please do not hesitate to write to us or send a message that includes pictures of the labs and we promise you a brief useful explanation of your lab report.

Abstract : The letter “ A ” is an abbreviation of the word “ Abnormal ” and is used as a alerting sign to the right of or around the lab result that is written in numbers, in order to warn or attract attention that this number resulting from the test of your blood is outside the normal permissible range defined for the human healthy condition in similar age and gender. This method of recognizing the exceeded results helps in speeding up the reading of the test and enhances your understanding of the labs and what’re the possible steps you should do after receiving the test and here you find the detailed description and other examples of the tests flagged with the letter “ A ”.

That was how to read the lab test report that has the flag “A”, however, lab test results may include some mysterious characters and signs that you may not know about, so that feel free to post your question or messaging us through comments or Facebook page and group, however, you may follow this website for future explanation that may educate you to read and understand your lab results easily.

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