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Patients Can Get Their Lab Results

A rule change from the Obama administration will now allow patients to receive the results of laboratory tests directly from the lab that performed them. Before, a patient had to wait for the doctor’s office to call with results, the Washington Post reports.

That presented a problem: A 2009 study in the Archive of Internal Medicine found that 7 percent of doctors’ offices failed to notify patients of results. Reid B. Blackwelder, president of the American Association of Family Physicians, told the Washington Post that doctors should notify patients of results regardless of the test outcome.

The rule will override the laws of 13 states that forbid labs from releasing lab results to patients. Opponents of the rule change say that only doctors have the training to detect the subtle changes in results. Blackwelder says patients don’t know what to do with the information.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says the new rule will empower patients. Neither the American Association of Family Physicians nor the American Medical Association opposed the rule change.

“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,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.