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Samaritan & Senator Collaborate on Laboratory Law

Oregon State Sen. Dick Anderson, in collaboration with Samaritan Health Services, successfully led efforts to pass Senate Bill 781A in both the Oregon House and Senate. The bill streamlines patient access to lab test results while continuing to protect patients’ rights and safety.

“This new law creates clarity for both the patient and the labs,” said Lesley Ogden, MD, CEO of both Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital and Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital. “Plus, it includes the federal exemptions to information blocking that is just good practice in the health care industry.” 

SNLH Lab Manager Dallas Hull is one member of the SHS Laboratory Council, the group that helped champion this change. He explained that the passage of SB781A allows for alignment of federal and state law. It preserves the spirit of the federal law of making lab results immediately available to patients. It also allows providers to request a delay in reporting results, when needed, so they can review results with their patients.

“Our lab patients needed to wait seven days to receive their results in MyChart. Now, with the passage of this senate bill, they can receive their results immediately,” Hull said.
Sen. Anderson noted that the bill passed with little opposition because of the strong work of the health care community to see it become law. 

“Health care is an ever-evolving industry for both patients and providers. We must continue to be proactive participants in the process,” Anderson said.

A Bit of Background

Federal Law. The federal 21st Century Cures Act was signed into law in December 2016, with the intent to accelerate the development and research of medical products. After a stakeholder engagement and comment period, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology issued a final rule in March 2020, requiring health care providers to give patients access to all the health information in their electronic medical records without charge and without delay. To do otherwise would be considered information blocking.

Information Blocking. Specifically, there are eight types of clinical notes that cannot be blocked: consultation notes, discharge summary notes, history and physical, imaging narratives, laboratory report narratives, pathology report narratives, procedure notes and progress notes. This final rule was implemented on April 5, 2021. Among the exceptions to the information blocking rule is the exclusion of psychotherapy notes if deemed reasonable and necessary to prevent patient harm.

Conflict with Oregon Law. In direct conflict with this final rule was an Oregon statute, dating from the 1980s and before electronic results reporting. It required waiting seven days to release laboratory test results after receiving a request from the patient, unless authorized for immediate release by the ordering clinician. That meant that after April 5, 2021, health care providers in Oregon would be in direct opposition to federal law. Passage of SB781A eliminates this conflict and allows labs and providers to comply with federal law.