HIPAA Lab Results and Amendments to HIPAA Laboratory Rules
In 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a Final Rule amending the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA). The amended rule requires laboratories to provide patients access to their lab results (the HIPAA right of access). Previous to the amendment, laboratories did not have to comply with the right of access standard. Instead patients had to request HIPAA lab results from their healthcare providers. However the amendment made it possible for patients to ask for their lab results directly from the laboratory.
The amendments also required laboratories to update their Notice of Privacy Practices (NPP) to account for the changes the CLIA amendment posed. Alice Leiter, policy counsel at the Center for Democracy & Technology stated, “HIPAA requires covered entities to promptly revise NPPs whenever there is a material change to any of their privacy practices, including those pertaining to individuals’ right to access their information.”
HIPAA Lab Results Delivery
Provided reasonable safeguards are in place to protect PHI, HIPAA lab results delivery is permitted by mail, fax, phone call, text message, or email. However, before communicating with patients through text or email, it is essential to warn patients of the potential risk associated with this type of communication. In addition, patients must consent to text and email communication before it is permitted to share lab results through these methods.
HIPAA Lab Results Over the Phone
Lab results are permitted to be shared over the phone with certain requirements. The lab must first provide its name and contact information, and ensure that they are speaking with an authorized party. it is permitted for laboratories to share HIPAA lab results over the phone to the patient’s healthcare provider. To share HIPAA lab results over the phone with patients, the patient must provide consent to receive phone communications. However, the FCC has noted that when a patient gives their phone number to a lab, that is considered consent, and it is permitted to share HIPAA lab results over the phone without written authorization from the patient.