Can I Order Lab Test Without a Doctor’s Order?
When you have a health concern, scheduling a lab test is often your best course of action. Lab tests provide a snapshot of your overall health and highlight potential issues that could otherwise go undetected.
However, scheduling a lab test is not always straightforward. More often than not, the process goes something like this: You have a health concern, so you call your physician’s office to schedule an appointment. The next available appointment is 2-3 weeks out from today.
Finally, it’s the day of your appointment. After driving to the doctor’s office, you wait for 30 minutes in the waiting room before the nurse calls you in to check your vitals. When the doctor finally arrives, she spends less than 10 minutes in the room before determining that more information is needed. She writes you a prescription for lab testing.
If you’re lucky, you’re able to have your blood drawn onsite; if not, you may need to drive to another collection site. You wait one week before the nurse calls you with your test results.
Phew! Navigating a health concern is largely a waiting game, and it can be exhausting (and expensive). This has led many patients to wonder if there is a better way. Is it possible to get a lab test without the need for a doctor’s referral?
The answer to this question is “maybe.” If your state allows Direct Access Testing, it is possible to order your own lab tests directly, without a doctor’s prescription. However, Direct Access Testing is not allowed in every state.
What Is Direct Access Testing?
Direct access testing (DAT) allows individuals to order their own medical tests directly from a clinical laboratory, without the need for a physician’s lab order. DAT is also known as patient-authorized testing or direct-to-consumer testing.
Patients who wish to have a lab test completed without a doctor’s referral need to conduct an online search for their desired test and locate a facility that offers that test in their area. The patient will usually pay for the lab test upfront, and the results will be communicated directly to them within a few days via email or phone call.
There are a number of reasons a patient might want to schedule a blood test without first obtaining a referral from their doctor, including:
- To save time (compared to waiting several weeks for an available appointment with their doctor, then waiting to hear back from the doctor’s office with test results).
- To save money (compared to paying for the lab test and a doctor’s appointment).
- To collect early data before an appointment with a physician or specialist, in order to streamline the process.
- To determine if a follow up appointment with a doctor is necessary at all.
- To acquire a second opinion following a prior diagnosis.
- To ensure privacy and confidentiality in the event that the patient does not want their doctor or insurance provider to know about their lab testing.
Which States Allow Direct Access Testing?
Currently, 37 states and the District of Columbia permit Direct Access Testing in some form, either with or without restrictions.
States permitted to perform DAT with no limitations: AK, AR, DC, DE, IN, IA, KS, LA, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NM, NC, ND, OH, OK, SD, UT, VT, WA, WV, WI, TX, VA
States permitted to perform DAT with some restrictions: AZ, CA, CO, FL, IL, ME, MD, MA, NV, NJ, OR, NY
States where DAT is prohibited: AL, CT, GA, HI, ID, IA, KY, MI, NH, PA, RI, SC, TN, WY
My One Medical Source makes it easier for patients in states that allow DAT to locate the specialized medical tests they need. Using our MAPs network, patients can enter their zip code and find collection sites that offer the lab testing they desire.
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