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Ducey signs legislation to allow lab testing without a doctor’s order

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story erroneously reported that a pending state law that will allow individuals to request medical laboratory tests without a doctor's order applies to cholesterol and blood-glucose tests. Arizona requires no doctor's order for those tests and others on the Direct Access Test List maintained by the Arizona Department of Health Services. The pending law expands that universe to all lab tests.

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SCOTTSDALE – Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation Monday that will allow Arizonans to get any lab test directly from licensed labs without a doctor’s order.

“This expands freedoms for people across the state get the lab tests they need,” Ducey said at a signing ceremony held at SkySong, the Arizona State University Scottsdale Innovation Center.

Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of Theranos, a medical testing company that pushed for the change, said patients deserve the choice to get tests done without going through doctors, adding that it will help with early detection and prevention.

“Every individual has the right to access actual health care information when they need it the most, to feel better, do more and live better,” said Holmes, whose company offers testing at Walgreens locations.

Arizona already allows individuals to receive a number of common lab tests, including those for cholesterol, blood glucose and the prostate-specific antigen (PSA), without a doctor’s order. The Direct Access Test List is maintained by the Arizona Department of  Health Services. The law will expand that universe to all lab tests.

Under the bill, laboratory tests requested without a doctor’s order don’t have to be covered by private insurance or the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. Among other provisions, it specifies that a health care provider isn’t subject to liability or disciplinary action for failing to review or act on the results of tests not ordered by that provider.

Rep. Heather Carter, R-Cave Creek, the bill’s author, said Arizona will lead the nation in preventative care and provide patients with better and timelier information. In addition, she said, having tests done before visiting a doctor will better prepare patients.

“Why do I need a doctor’s order to get a lab test for infomation that I want about my own health,” she said.

But Dr. Andrew Carroll, president of the Arizona Academy of Family Physicians, which registered its opposition to Carter’s bill, said the law could fracture patient-physician relationships. Individuals aren’t able to correctly interpret results, he said.

“Patients will go out and get their own tests done, but what happens after is the big question,” Carroll said in a phone interview.

But Ducey said the law will serve as a model for health care systems around the country.

“Whether it’s getting a grip on government spending, keeping our tax code predictable and reasonable, improving our public schools or providing excellent and efficient health care my priority is the same: put more opportunity and greater freedom within reach of all of our citizens,” he said.