In September the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the CDC, proposed a rule that would allow patients access to their test results directly from the laboratory, rather than having to go through their physician. There are pros and cons to this rule. It could improve safety by allowing patients to have direct access o information that sometimes gets overlooked by medical providers. It may help them make decisions about their medical care. On the other hand, the patient may receive abnormal test results prior to discussing them with a medical provider and this may cause them undue distress. They may misinterpret results. If the results are normal, it may discourage the patient from going back for follow-up care believing that since the results or normal, they have no medical issues.
More information can be found in the December 14th issue of JAMA.
Giardina, T., Should Patients Get Direct Access to their Laboratory Test Results?, JAMA, 306 (22): 2502-2503, December 14, 2011.