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Opinion: Should patients have immediate access to test results?

Statesman Journal, August 9, 2012

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services wants to change the lab results system. HHS proposals would allow patients to immediately review their lab results via a website, almost at the same time as their physicians. Whether this is a good idea or bad will depend on what happens after the patients view their results. Patients should have access to their lab tests. But it is crucial that a medical professional explains the results. Raw numbers without the benefit of context can also cause patient anxiety. Patients often assume the worst, so viewing results alone might cause unnecessary alarm.