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Patients Can Now Get Test Results Straight From the Lab

Test-tubesPatients may now get their medical test results directly from the laboratory, without having to go through a doctor’s office, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday.

Updating the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988, the final rule allows labs to give patients, people designated by patients or their “personal representatives” access to completed test reports on request, the federal agency said in a news release.

“The right to access personal health information is a cornerstone of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in the news release. “Information like lab results can empower patients to track their health progress, make decisions with their health care professionals and adhere to important treatment plans.”

Under the HIPAA rule, patients or their representatives can see or be given a copy of the patient’s protected health information, including an electronic copy. The amended rules eliminate an exception to the 1996 rule that limited patients’ access to their protected health information when held by certain labs, according to the news release.

Despite the fact that patients can still access test reports from other doctors, “these changes give patients a fresh option to obtain the test reports directly through the laboratory while maintaining strong protections for patients’ comfort, ” the HHS explained.

Requests may have for being put in writing, and the patient or representative may need to cover the cost associated with copying or emailing the particular test, the release explained. Copies must be given to patients within 30 days on the request, in most circumstances.

Source: HealthDay News

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