As I was writing about WellnessFX and their free blood test, I dug into LabCorp’s site. I wondered if there were laws about releasing lab results directly to patients.
Obviously I haven’t been doing this long enough.
Of course, there are laws, and of course, they vary from state to state (scroll down to see what the rule is in your state). I also found out that LabCorp also has its own direct-to-consumer blood test product: LabCorp Beacon.
Some states require physicians to direct the release of lab test results to patients. To find out if your state allows lab test results to be delivered to patients, click here to view a state-by-state list.
Fifteen states do not allow patients to receive lab results directly. It’s a strange mix that includes California, Massachusetts, New York, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Why do those 15 states require results be released a doctor? Do those states have really strong physician lobbying groups that are motivated to preserve the middle man? Is this like the patchwork of telemedicine laws where each legislature has its own reasons?
I know universal healthcare laws are unpopular, but direct access to lab results seems like a no-brainer. Waiting for test results is one of the top complaints about healthcare in America. Anyone working for smaller government should focus on rules like this that create a completely unnecessary middleman and make life harder for startups trying to launch at a national scale.
Here is a list of how states regulate the release of lab results. If your state is one of the 15 in the “NO” column, call your legislator.
Thank you for this brave and timely post. Physical therapists' patients, too, must go through the medical middleman to access necessary services.
State medical associations will claim that laws preserving this oversight are needed so physicians can determine the safety of an intervention for a particular patient. Also, the physician acts as a 'gatekeeper' to prevent unnecessary services and costs.
The irony is that most individual physicians don't want to act as gatekeepers - they usually want to please their patient and will approve most services that patients request that aren't contraindicated (eg: antibiotics for viral infections).
Patients need to become empowered to demand access to their lab results without physician oversight. Similarly, direct access to musculoskeletal care by physical therapists will lower costs by eliminating the fee that physicians charge for what is essentially a rubber stamp.
Patient voices demanding access to care in their state capitols is the best counterweight to the PAC dollars controlled by state physician associations.
Tim Richardson, PT