October 2, 2013

Should We Receive Lab Results From the Lab?

Obtaining our lab results directly from the lab and before an explanation from the doctor for translation has both pros and cons. I certainly understand the patient's perspective and wish the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would finalize the proposed regulations they released about two years ago - Federal Register Volume 76, Issue 178 (September 14, 2011). Two employees from the Center for Democracy and Technology have posted a blog on this topic on the Health Care Blog.

It is an excellent blog with some not so excellent comments and that is apparently one or two doctors that are real whiners. They are more concerned about providing free healthcare than translating the information for the patients. I may be fortunate that they haven't read my blog here. I have received an email from one doctor who could be in favor of the idea, but in general without legal safeguards would not support it. He agreed with my proposal and would add two additional safeguards, but did not list them.

In the discussion of releasing lab results directly to the patient, there is one thing in favor of not allowing this. A doctor recently blogged about being interrupted during Saturday dinner with his family by a patient that had received her lab test results the previous Tuesday. Granted this is very inconsiderate on the patient's part. In the blog, the doctor did not state when her appointment was to be, so no judgment can be made there.

That is one reason I think that doctors should have the right to designate who may and who may not receive lab results prior to an appointment. Many patients just use poor judgment and think they can call a doctor whenever they choose and the doctor has to jump to their beck and call. These patients should never receive lab results except during their appointment.

In summary, doctors should have the privilege of designating who should be able to receive the results when and from where. Those of us that are allowed to receive the results need to realize that doctors have office hours and act accordingly and not abuse the privilege if we are afforded receiving the results from the lab.

I guess I will never have that problem because I need to be at my doctor appointment at least 30 minutes early and have the blood draw for the results. Then at the doctor visit, I receive a copy of the lab results and the doctor's translation at the same time. For me this is great and takes care of the issue many are having about not even receiving a copy of their lab results.

Yes, I would advocate penalties for doctors that refuse to give patients a copy of their lab results with one exception. Mental health issues may dictate that the patient should not receive them and I agree. However, some doctors always feel that their patients have mental health issues when in fact it is the doctor with the mental problems.

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