Patents Entitlements to Medical Test Data Upgraded under HIPAA

Access to private healthcare information enables patients to take care of their health and work together with their care providers. Getting access to info has now become easier after the issuing of the final law modifying the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA).

The latest change, which was publicized a couple of days ago, lets a patient or her or his chosen representative access the full laboratory reports after medical checking. Earlier a limit existed under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Law stopping access to the data in specific conditions.

As earlier, patients will be capable to get their test results from their doctors, though now they are also capable to request the info directly from the laboratory that carried out the tests. The new law makes sure patient data is kept secret with strong safeguards in place to avoid illegal access while making sure the patients are provided with timely info they can use to improve their health.

Three organizations within the HHS are accountable for the introduction of the new law: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), with the latter accountable for applying the new HIPAA rules.

Though medical data should be released on request, a laboratory is permitted up to 30 days from receiving a written request and a copy of the data. Electronic or paper copies of the data can be obtained, even though the patient must be prepared to meet the charge of printing, postage or for the medium on which the data is supplied – a CD or memory stick for instance.

It is necessary that the individual collecting the results is able to confirm they are certified to access the results. CLIA laboratories have some flexibility concerning the ways they can use to confirm the identity of the patient or her or his representative and while oral requests may be accepted, patients must be prepared to make the request in writing.

There has been some anxiety raised within the healthcare industry that the delivery of the results would also need the laboratory or pathologists to describe test results to patients; nevertheless, the patient’s doctor remains the first point of contact and must describe results. The new ruling just makes sure that patients are provided access to their medical data and laboratory staff must refer the patient back to their main healthcare provider for additional information. Test results should be interpreted by a doctor who has access to the patient´s complete medical history.

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Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson is a news reporter specializing in information technology cyber security. Mark has contributed to leading publications and spoken at international forums with a focus on cybersecurity threats and the importance of data privacy. Mark is a computer science graduate.