Ruling Grants Patients Direct Access to Lab Results

CURE, Summer 2014, Volume 13, Issue 2

Patients no longer have to go through the doctor who ordered clinical tests to learn the results; instead, they can get the results directly from the lab.

According to a ruling passed in February by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), patients no longer have to go through the doctor who ordered clinical tests to learn the results. Instead, they can get the results directly from the lab.

“Information like lab results can empower patients to track their health progress, make decisions with their healthcare professionals and adhere to important treatment plans,” former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a press release. Sebelius resigned from office in April.

The federal rule revises the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) of 1988 to allow labs to provide complete test results to a patient or a patient’s designated representative upon request. The rule also removes an exception under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 that protected health information at CLIA-certified or CLIA-exempt laboratories.

Patients can continue to receive lab results from their physicians, but this new ruling provides patients another option for access.