On Monday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that patients will soon be able to obtain their medical test results directly from their laboratory, rather than having to request a copy from their physician’s office. Currently, 13 states currently prohibit labs from releasing test results directly to patients. At the present, California law allows the release of lab results to patients if providers give approval. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), many laboratories were exempt from this requirement. While patients can continue to get access to their lab tests from their physicians, under the new rule, labs will be required to provide patients copies, including electronic copies, of their lab test results within 30 days of a request. The new rule takes effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, which is expected to happen soon. HIPAA-covered labs will have 180 days from the effective date of the rule to comply. Before the revisions, CLIA stipulated that labs could release test results to only three types of individuals:

  • The person authorized under state law to order or receive results, typically a physician;
  • The person responsible for using the test results for treatment; and
  • A referring lab that requested the test.
  • Reference:

    • Federal Register: https://www.federalregister.gov/
    • CLIA: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/CLIA/default.aspx
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