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June 25, 2002

For More Information, Contact:
Kristina Loquist at (916) 651- 4011


SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) announced today that Assembly Bill 2831 to improve women’s access to Pap smear results has passed out of the Legislature and is headed to the Governor for signature.  Suggested by Dr. Paul Tang of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, AB 2831 adds e-mail and internet postings as patient approved options for sharing these test results with patients.

“We’ve all experienced the anxiety that comes from waiting for results of a medical test,” said Simitian. “In the vast majority of cases the results are normal, and there’s no good reason not to use electronic technology to alert us to normal results as quickly as possible. In fact, current law already allows electronic notice of some medical test results, but not Pap smears. I hope AB 2831 will bring many women faster assurance of normal test results and reduce the anxiety that comes from waiting.”

For some patients electronic notice is more than a matter of simple preference.  Those who are deaf or hearing impaired may find that e-mail is the best and most private means of communication. Others who travel frequently on business or have busy schedules, may find that electronic notice is the only timely way to reach them.

“Assemblyman Simitian’s bill will aid patients in obtaining information about their Pap smear results and allows them to be a partner in their health care with their physician,” said Shannon Smith-Crowley of the California Medical Association.

AB 2831 requires patient consent before using e-mail or the internet to notify a woman of Pap smear test results, and would ultimately be at the discretion of the physician. Notification of test results that indicate malignancies or other sensitive results would not be permissible via e-mail or the internet.

Dr. Paul Tang, Chief Medical Information Officer, at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) met with Assemblyman Simitian last year to discuss the impact of state legislation on their e-health initiative which allows patients to receive test results securely over the internet. Dr. Tang stated that, “Women were especially pleased to be able to get results of their Pap smear so quickly using this online method. When AB1490 took effect on January 1st, 2002, we had to reprogram our system to prevent patients from receiving Pap smears electronically. This didn’t make sense to our patients, since they could receive the results on paper, but not electronically. I was very pleased that Assemblyman Simitian worked with us to introduce a bill that addressed our concerns. AB 2831 will allow our patients to receive Pap smears and other test results faster and more conveniently. It’s just what the patient ordered!”

Simitian noted, “E-mail and the internet are fast, efficient, and convenient. They are widely accepted forms of communications. Current law simply doesn’t recognize these technologies that are in common use today. The simple fact is we have a 19th century notification system in a 21st century world.”