Maine Law LD597
Maine Law LD597
Concerns grow over tick-borne illnesses in Maine.
This summer (where did that go, by the way?) the 126th Maine State Legislature passed LD 597 that requires patients to receive a copy of their lab report, effective October 9th. “Health care provider” as defined by the bill includes physician, hospital, or a person licensed to provide services in Maine.
Local press presented the bill as a victory for Lyme disease advocates over the medical mainstream, which relies on guidelines of the Infectious Disease Society of America, although the bill was amended to drop a requirement that the Maine CDC link to an organization recommending different treatment. An article dated June 14th states:
Many Lyme patients and some doctors believe the disease is far more prevalent than most physicians recognize and that it can linger in the body after treatment with antibiotics. Doctors’ rigid view of the disease prevents many Lyme suffers from proper diagnosis and causes avoidable suffering, they say.
Most Lyme disease experts, on the other hand, argue that the disease has become a convenient diagnosis for a wide range of health complaints. Some call long-term antibiotic therapy harmful and unwarranted.
I don’t remember a lot of panic about ticks when I was a kid, although I saw dog and wood ticks. These days, especially in rural Maine, there is growing concern over tick-borne illnesses. Clearly this bill reflects that concern and is seen as a patient victory for some, an intrusion into medical practice by others.
As the public becomes more informed about their healthcare, including its cost and long-term effects, we may see more of this kind of legislative intervention. What the local press reports is at least as interesting as what it leaves out. Health care concerns have moved into the political forefront while laboratories work in the background. I don’t disagree that patients need to be informed of their results, but Lyme disease test results can be hard to interpret. I can’t think of a worse choice offhand, which leaves me scratching my head wondering what these politicians are really thinking.
Question is who gives the patient the results?
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