Access to Medical Test Results

The Department of Health and Human Services released an amendment to the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988.  The new rule specifies that,

“…upon the request of a patient (or the patient’s personal representative), laboratories subject to CLIA may provide the patient, the patient’s personal representative, or a person designated by the patient, as applicable, with copies of completed test reports that, using the laboratory’s authentication process, can be identified as belonging to that patient.”

In short, patients and their designated personal representatives will now have access to their test results directly from the lab.  This will allow them to bypass their doctor and/or doctors office in order to get a copy of the test results.  The rule also will allow the patient, or their representative, to direct copies of the test reports to be sent to entities or other people.  In the long run this will allow patients more access to their health information.

The new rule takes effect 60 days from the 2/6/2014 date of publication in the Federal Register and covered entities must comply within 240 days after the publication date.

Link:

CLIA program and HIPAA Privacy Rule; Patients Access to Test Reports (https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/02/06/2014-02280/clia-program-and-hipaa-privacy-rule-patients-access-to-test-reports)

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4 thoughts on “Access to Medical Test Results

  1. I see the wisdom of this, yet I hope people don’t avoid involving their doctor. To me, better care is achieved if people treating you know more about what might trouble you. Oftentimes, contraemptive or even toxic drug combinations can result if there is an unawareness of what you are taking.

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    • At the bottom of the rule they wrote:

      These changes to the CLIA regulations and the HIPAA Privacy Rule provide individuals with a greater ability to access their health information, empowering them to take a more active role in managing their health and health care.

      I agree with that assessment.

      Some doctors offices are better at:

      1. informing patients of test results,
      2. sharing a copy of test results
      3. reviewing test results

      with patients in a timely manner. Others are sorely lacking in that department and getting test results, and straight answers about test results, can be like pulling teeth.

      Most patients right now get a test done and wait for the doctor, or their office, to tell them the results. When the doctor, or their office, are the only ones with a copy of the test results it puts the power of interpretation and the power of what information is and isn’t shared with the patient in their hands. For example, I had a test result and when I asked for specific numbers and ranges was told by the doctor that I didn’t need to know any of that information. I just had to trust and believe what I was being told. Which left me more stressed than before and when I researched online my imagination was left to run wild.

      Right now if a patient calls a lab and asks about the test results, or about getting a copy, they are informed to contact the office of the doctor who ordered the test. They can’t get a copy unless the doctor, or their office staff, lets them have a copy or even lets them see a copy. Then everything is left to the interpretation of the doctor, nurse, or staff member reviewing the chart to hand over the information. Some doctors are great at taking the time to explain and go over things.

      For example another doctor’s office when they ran a test scheduled a follow up appointment to go over the results. They handed a complete copy of the entire test to me. Then the doctor spent 30 minutes not only reviewing that test, but my entire chart and answered every question about my health that I had. I also could take the results home, go through them and call with any other questions I might have. In that situation and with that doctor my health care was more collaborative and I felt more empowered and knowledgeable about health care decisions. Needless to say he was my favorite doctor.

      In the end it’s not about avoiding the doctor, it is about empowering the patient with actual knowledge about what their tests results are so they can have a knowledgeable discussion with their doctor.

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