As a dutiful patient, one week prior to my doctor’s appointment I got my requisite blood tests done. I use Lab Corp instead of going to the hospital lab because I can make convenient appointments online, get email confirmations, and quick access to the results. In a surprising turn of events I actually received a call from my doctor’s office with the results 3 days later. I say surprising because normally I have to beg, plead, call, or at least charm a nurse to get my results at all. The caller announced that the results were “fine”. Now in 27 years with a chronic disease “fine” is not a word I usually heard in conjunction with my bloodwork, so I asked if I could see them. (note: every patient should do this) “OK” was the quick answer. I could fax or email them to you. Yee Haw!! Now we were getting somewhere. Of course there were abnormal results and some tests that should have been conducted that were not (one way to get “fine” results is apparently to omit tests I don’t do well on), but the liver enzymes were solid. So, fine. We discussed the other issues when I got to my appointment. But let’s not miss the point here people, the big cultural shift, the message received, at least this one institution – I had the right to see my blood test results.
To ensure that all patients, not just the lucky few with enlightened physicians have this crucial information, last week at the launch of the HHS/ONC Consumer Engagement in HIT campaign a proposed rule was announced to allow patients direct access to their results from the lab. This is an enormous step forward in the annals of patient engagement and participatory medicine. Please submit comments to make sure that this rule passes at www.regulations.gov or by following the directions in the Federal Register Announcement.
HHS Proposed Rule Allowing Direct Access to Lab Results http://www.ofr.gov/%28X%281%29S%28cp53mc3sjd3cbdfu4r32fhcj%29%29/OFRUpload/OFRData/2011-23525_PI.pdf
Center for Democracy & Technology http://cdt.org/blogs/harley-geiger/139under-proposed-rule-patients-will-receive-clinical-test-results-directly