Quick Action Needed! To Get Your Medical Test Results…

laboratoryHave you ever been frustrated trying to get copies of your medical test results?  It may be because there is an existing law that says you can only get them from the doctor or other provider who ordered them for you.

That law is yet another example of how patients are excluded from being allowed to take responsibility for their own healthcare.  Further, it is one more area of healthcare that has, in some ways, become dangerous.  The law exists because someone’s protective wisdom says we patients are either 1. not smart enough to handle the results ourselves or 2. need to be protected from bad news until a doctor can explain the results to us.  Studies have shown that 7% of all test results that reflect bad news that require a treatment are never delivered to patients (pause… and think about that for a moment….)

It is vitally important we cut out the middleman here!

You now have the opportunity to affect a change — by simply letting the Health Data Rights group know you support them.  I received this email today.  I have replied with a resounding YES I SUPPORT YOUR EFFORTS and I hope you’ll do the same.

This email must be sent by Monday, October 19, 2009.

You can send your supporting email to:  action@healthdatarights.org Put “Consensus Letter” in the subject — and make your opinions known.

Change The Rules and Get Your Labs

We are writing to share a timely opportunity to put HealthDataRights into action! On Tuesday, October 20, the Health IT Policy Committee at ONC is holding a hearing regarding CLIA laws and access by consumers to their own test results. We have a unique chance to speak with one, resounding voice that the federal barriers to patient access to test results should be removed. Dr. Phil Marshall of WebMD will be testifying at the hearing, and he will be presenting the linked consensus letter http://www.healthdatarights.org/pdfs/CLIA-Letter.pdf that provides background on the issue, recommends two common sense ways the federal laws can be changed to allow greater access, and the benefits of making those changes. This letter has been vetted by some of the top health data experts and health data privacy lawyers. Here is a summary of the letter and what we’re asking you to do:

ISSUE: Federal regulations under the HIPAA Privacy Rule treat test results as a special case, separate from other protected health information. CMS has issued regulations that further state that results can only be delivered to “Authorized Persons”, which as it is currently defined does not include the patient who is the subject of the test.

PROPOSED CHANGE: We propose simply eliminating the special treatment of test result data, and have it be treated under HIPAA just like other protected health information. We also propose that Authorized Persons explicitly include the patient (upon request by the patient)

BENEFITS: While these changes do not address the state laws in a small number of states that further restrict access to test results, they remove substantial federal barriers to data access. It is unlikely to cause any harm because, under HIPAA, providers and labs generally would have up to 30 days to respond to the patient’s request, providing them great flexibility in how and when they deliver the test results. Also, because so many clinically significant test results (approximately 7%) are never reported to the patient, increased access can help ensure that test results aren’t  lost to the ether . Third, because approximately 14% of labs and other tests are repeated because prior results aren’t available, making test results more available to consumers can help reduce this duplication and related costs. Finally, the explosion in health management applications and services that could make use of test results have the potential to help consumers better manage their health, make more informed health decisions, and help lower costs.


STEP 1: Send an email by close of business Monday, October 19, with the following information:

Your name and, if you choose, your organization & your stance on this letter:

-I support the letter and wish to be listed as a co-signer

-I support the letter but do not want to be listed

-I don’t support the letter, and why

STEP 2: Blog about this issue. Include stories, data and stats. Let’s generate some real energy around making this change!  You can also comment on the new healthdatarights blog.

Note the letter can be found here [http://www.healthdatarights.org/pdfs/CLIA-Letter.pdf]

Initial signers:

Dr. Phil Marshall, WebMD
Dr. Daniel Sands, Harvard Medical School
Jamie Heywood, PatientsLikeMe
Dr. David Kibbe, The Kibbe Group, LLC
Nate McLemore, Microsoft
Adam Bosworth, Keas
Dave deBronkart, E-patients
Dr. Roni Zeiger, Google
Colin Evans, Dossia

[email action@healthdatarights.org ] to join.

PS: Forward this to your friends and don’t forget to endorse healthdatarights at http://www.healthdatarights.org/

This email must be sent by Monday, October 19, 2009. You can send your supporting email to:  action@healthdatarights.org Put “Consensus Letter” in the subject — and make your opinions known. It will take you only one minute — vitally important — so please participate.

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3 thoughts on “Quick Action Needed! To Get Your Medical Test Results…”

  1. I support this issue and will send an e-mail, because I had a difficult time getting my results from my own doctor. He would not tell me what he tested me for, or the results. I had to complain to the ombudsman to get a copy of my results. I have many abnormal results (circulating immune complexes in my blood and severe sacroiliac nerve root damage) and the doctor said those test results are “just lab results and don’t mean anything.” I have pain and weakness in both knees and trouble walking. The doctor ignores me.

  2. madeleine nawar

    I very much support the Patient’s right to his/er medical record and suggest that such copies of such records be made available to the patient at the end of every visit same time/date or within 5 working days.

    The patient should receive a copy of the records in
    their entirity upon payment of the full amound due.

    Furthermore, if it’s necessary to charge for the service, a 25 cents/copy should be sufficient to cover labor and material.

  3. Madeleine,

    Just so you know – each state has its own law about how much doctors may charge for copies of medical records. It can be as much as $1 per page or more. Most doctors will charge for records that must be retrieved from storage, but not so much records that can simply be printed from an electronic record. Here’s more info on retrieving medical records.

    Thanks for posting,

Comments are closed.

Trisha Torrey
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