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Charging for blood test results in Canberra?

By mousie15 - 11 April 2011 14

I recently had some blood tests taken as a result of a doctors appointment. I called up the doctor/medical centre today and I was told that I would be charged a $5 “printing” fee if I wanted a copy of the results. Does anyone know if this is legal???

Aren’t I entitled to this information for free… ??

Note that the Medical Centre is not linked to the pathology centre that took and analysed my blood.

What’s Your opinion?


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14 Responses to
Charging for blood test results in Canberra?
dundle 9:14 pm 13 Apr 11

I had this issue a few years ago and found out the law but I can’t remember it in detail and it may have changed. However, here are some helpful links:

I believe you have the right to view the information but they can charge you admin fees.
http://www.privacy.gov.au/faq/health/q32
http://www.privacy.gov.au/faq/health/q7
Here’s the ACT law:
http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/1997-125/current/pdf/1997-125.pdf
And some more info:
http://health.act.gov.au/c/health?a=sp&did=11080324
I don’t have time to look through it all and I don’t want to give you a wrong answer but hopefully you can find the info you’re looking for there.

To be honest I’ve found doctors hate letting you view them without an appointment even though I think they’re theoretically supposed to.

luther_bendross 2:28 pm 12 Apr 11

p1 said :

I learned some time ago that it is always best, with x-rays, blood tests and the like, to get the results (films and written reports) given to you personally, then take them to the Doctor. That way they are yours, and the practice can’t charge a fee to, for example, send a copy of your records to a new practice should you move. This requires you to actually keep track of things, but it is for your health.

+1. I do this too. I’m not a doctor but I feel I possess an amount of common sense that allows me to look through such test results and see which Hepatitis I have or whether my shoulder is dislocated. I’m not about to tell a doctor how to do their job, but I want to know as much about my body (without being charged) as possible.

johnboy 1:28 pm 12 Apr 11

we’re talking about a 10c cost!

Sammy 1:23 pm 12 Apr 11

johnboy said :

A five dollar printing fee seems excessive though and frankly should be part of the service.

But very few people actually want a printed out copy of their blood results, I would think. Therefore, if they include the cost of administering such a thing into the consultation fee, then every patient has to pay for it, rather than the small minority that want it. That seems even less equitable.

p1 1:05 pm 12 Apr 11

I learned some time ago that it is always best, with x-rays, blood tests and the like, to get the results (films and written reports) given to you personally, then take them to the Doctor. That way they are yours, and the practice can’t charge a fee to, for example, send a copy of your records to a new practice should you move. This requires you to actually keep track of things, but it is for your health.

Jivrashia 12:37 pm 12 Apr 11

Not related to pathology, but I got charged $23 for a 30 second lecture session on how to properly brush my teeth. This was on top of a dental check up and cleaning.

Beat that.

And don’t lawyers charge $30 per page that is faxed somewhere?

johnboy 12:01 pm 12 Apr 11

A five dollar printing fee seems excessive though and frankly should be part of the service.

HenryG 11:54 am 12 Apr 11

scorpio63 said :

Hi Mousie15, if that were myself I would not be returning to the medical centre again after the stingy act.

For a number of reasons, one: to print out a one or two page result sheet while staff are able to receive incoming calls at the same time is not affecting business and has little impact on their printer cartridge, two: Do GP’s discount or offer any type of discount to long term regular loyal patients who can wait up to a fortnight to secure an appointment during the flu season, three: Do GP’s discount or offer any type of discount to people who are unemployed, ill and not receiving sick leave benefits? . Four: Do GP’s discount or offer any type of discount to long term patients of theirs who sit and wait for up to two hours during their scheduled appointment times, and then told there is another one hour wait due to emergencies? The answers to most of these questions is a ‘No’ not usually.

These businesses for the most part are run as ‘businesses’ nowadays.

Sadly, the days are long gone where bulk billing or making life easier and fairer to a patient exists.

Government policies and lack of assistance to Businesses including those involved in the Health Care industry are partly the cause.

Nevertheless i find the $5 fee for printing to be wrong, tight and scroogy by the Medical Centre staff.

I would not have charged you the $5 despite working in the practice and sticking to most of the other employment rules.

20 years ago I worked for a GP who refused to treat a four year old with a head injury when the Mum held no medicare card in her bag, no money, a first time visit and single mother. I quit the part-time job and reported the incident so it would never happen to another child and parent.

Doctors are responsible in providing full test results in a timely manner, whether these tests be provided over the phone or in person.

Fair trading may be interested in this $5.00 or $10.00 fee charge, particularly if a sign is not displayed in medical centres where they are charging for the printed results.

I would request a photocopy or duplicate of the results to be sent to the GP in future, regardless of being sent electronically or not. That will save any $5.00 or in future $10.00 fee.

I hear they are charging an administration fee and that a partial payment for electricity and internet usage be paid for all emails sent these days.

Think about it before whinging please. Of course a doctors service is run like a business they are professionals and if they didn’t run it like a business they would be OUT of business.

scorpio63 12:32 am 12 Apr 11

Hi Mousie15, if that were myself I would not be returning to the medical centre again after the stingy act.

For a number of reasons, one: to print out a one or two page result sheet while staff are able to receive incoming calls at the same time is not affecting business and has little impact on their printer cartridge, two: Do GP’s discount or offer any type of discount to long term regular loyal patients who can wait up to a fortnight to secure an appointment during the flu season, three: Do GP’s discount or offer any type of discount to people who are unemployed, ill and not receiving sick leave benefits? . Four: Do GP’s discount or offer any type of discount to long term patients of theirs who sit and wait for up to two hours during their scheduled appointment times, and then told there is another one hour wait due to emergencies? The answers to most of these questions is a ‘No’ not usually.

These businesses for the most part are run as ‘businesses’ nowadays.

Sadly, the days are long gone where bulk billing or making life easier and fairer to a patient exists.

Government policies and lack of assistance to Businesses including those involved in the Health Care industry are partly the cause.

Nevertheless i find the $5 fee for printing to be wrong, tight and scroogy by the Medical Centre staff.

I would not have charged you the $5 despite working in the practice and sticking to most of the other employment rules.

20 years ago I worked for a GP who refused to treat a four year old with a head injury when the Mum held no medicare card in her bag, no money, a first time visit and single mother. I quit the part-time job and reported the incident so it would never happen to another child and parent.

Doctors are responsible in providing full test results in a timely manner, whether these tests be provided over the phone or in person.

Fair trading may be interested in this $5.00 or $10.00 fee charge, particularly if a sign is not displayed in medical centres where they are charging for the printed results.

I would request a photocopy or duplicate of the results to be sent to the GP in future, regardless of being sent electronically or not. That will save any $5.00 or in future $10.00 fee.

GregW 10:28 pm 11 Apr 11

OP: The medical center is entitled to charge a reasonable administration fee for providing you with your records. This may include labour costs. $5 is so pathetically small that I can’t imagine anyone challenging them on this fee. 30 seconds on google is all it would have taken for you to find this out yourself.

MrPC said :

Further, It’s arguable that blood test results are not intended for a lay audience and should be kept on your medical records for future use by a doctor.

Most “lay audience” are easily capable of looking up references ranges and researching particular conditions in far more detail than most GP’s are aware, and almost certainly more up to date.

When it comes to health there seems to be an unhealthy risk-averse attitude in this country. All the time people are told to see your doctor rather than being provided with useful information. Doctors are rarely the best sources of health information. They are glorified technicians who do no original research and are well paid only because they do a job that no one else wants to do. Overseas (in UK and Belgium for example) we train GPs in 3-4 years and to a significantly higher standard, but we don’t have heavy handed unions like the AMA requiring what is essentially an 11 year low paid apprenticeship before they can practice, at a “full-time” study load of 20 hours per week. I wonder how much they remember after 11 years?

urchin 8:09 pm 11 Apr 11

as you might guess from the name of the fee, they are charging you for the printing, not for the information. did you ask them if you could look at it on the monitor?

saraj 7:41 pm 11 Apr 11

better than paying $80+ for another appointment with the GP to get them…..

MrPC 7:00 pm 11 Apr 11

No, you’re not entitled to this information for free. You’re lucky they didn’t charge you a consultation to get the results (or did they?)

Further, It’s arguable that blood test results are not intended for a lay audience and should be kept on your medical records for future use by a doctor.

However, you are entitled to name and shame the business in question and get the tests done again elsewhere, most of which will be on Medicare’s dollar.

LSWCHP 6:57 pm 11 Apr 11

I would say that you’re entitled to the information at no further cost, but I reckon they’re within their rights to charge some amount for printing documents for you. Whether that amount should be $5 is a different question.

Being of a certain age and with a family history, I recently had a blood test for prostate-specific antigens. When the results came in I spoke to my doctor on the blower and we discussed the results (good) at length for no charge, and that was all I wanted.

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