Va. lawmakers okay bill requiring doctors to tell patients Lyme tests could be faulty

February 19, 2013

The Virginia General Assembly has approved legislation that would require doctors to tell patients who test negative for Lyme disease that they may need to be retested.

Under the bill, doctors would have to tell patients in writing that Lyme disease is the sixth-fastest-growing disease in the U.S., and that current laboratory testing “can be problematic and standard laboratory tests often result in false negative and false positive results.” Patients would also have to be informed that a negative result “does not necessarily mean you do not have Lyme disease.”

The bill would expire July 1, 2018.

Opponents of the bill expressed concerns during the legislative process that the proposed requirement interfered with the doctor-patient relationship. A separate measure — which failed to advance — proposed informing the public of the uncertainty of Lyme disease test results through the Virginia Department of Health Web site.

Supporters said the bill would help with early detection of the disease, which is curable if treated quickly.

The bill now heads to Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) for his signature. McDonnell convened a task force on Lyme disease in 2011 after concerns were raised about the disease and other tick-related illnesses’ growing impact on Virginia.

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