National Partnership for Women & Families

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Christine Bechtel, Vice President

From the desk of ... Christine Bechtel, Health IT

In the Works: New Patient Rights

"When it comes to health care, information is power. When patients have their lab results, they are more likely to ask the right questions, make better decisions and receive better care."
~ HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

Patients and families may soon have a great opportunity to have more control over - and make improvements in - the health care they receive. Under a proposed rule released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today, patients will be able to receive test results reports directly from labs upon request.

This is great news: it will help patients access their information when they want and need to, ensure that their medical records are updated and accurate, and support them in being active and informed decision-makers in their care.

Does this take doctors out of the equation? Absolutely not. Doctors and other providers always have been and will continue to be essential in helping patients understand and interpret their test results. This rule won't change that.

Here's what it will change: Right now, many states have laws that prohibit patients and families from getting their test results directly from the labs; they must go through doctors' offices instead. And unfortunately, there are still millions of patients who do not receive their lab results, leaving them without the information that they need. That, too, will change.

The new rule will allow patients to have a more hands-on role in their health care decisions and be able to seek the medical attention that they need - and that's a huge step forward for better care.

Learn more in our statement.


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