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Lab Ordering Rights in Georgia: A Comprehensive Guide

Medically reviewed by 
Jessica Christie
Lab Ordering Rights in Georgia: A Comprehensive Guide

Figuring out who can order lab tests in Georgia can be as puzzling as solving a complex crossword. There are many rules, and they keep changing. This guide aims to simplify everything for you. Whether you're a healthcare worker, a lawmaker, or someone trying to manage your health, understanding these rules is vital. 

With this article, we'll guide you through the complexities, helping ensure that tests are ordered correctly and efficiently for everyone.


Understanding Lab Ordering in Georgia

Laboratory tests are fundamental tools in the medical field, aiding in the diagnosis and monitoring of various health conditions. From blood tests to biopsies, these tests provide critical information that shapes patient care plans. For chronic disease management, such as diabetes or heart disease, regular lab tests can help track progress and adjust treatments as needed. 

In acute conditions, they can be lifesaving, providing rapid answers in emergency situations. Despite their importance, ordering and interpreting lab tests come with their set of challenges. Practitioners often face regulatory hurdles that can delay testing. Additionally, accurate interpretation of test results is pivotal; misinterpretation can lead to misdiagnosis or inappropriate therapy. 

Training and experience play a crucial role in overcoming these challenges, ensuring that tests contribute positively to patient care. In Georgia, not all healthcare practitioners have the same lab ordering rights. Physicians generally have broad permissions, but other healthcare professionals, such as nurse practitioners or physician assistants, might have more restricted rights depending on their certification levels and the settings in which they practice. 

Understanding these nuances is vital for effective teamwork in healthcare settings, ensuring that each professional works within their scope of practice to best serve patients.

Who Can Legally Order Labs in Georgia?

Lab ordering rights in Georgia vary depending on the type of healthcare practitioner. Here is a breakdown of the rights of different practitioners:

Medical Doctors (MDs) and Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (DOs): MDs and DOs have broad lab ordering privileges. They can order a wide range of laboratory tests, including blood tests, urinalysis, genetic tests, hormonal tests, and more. Their extensive medical training allows them to use these tests for comprehensive patient care.

Licensed Acupuncturists (LAc): In Georgia, Licensed Acupuncturists can order lab tests if they have earned the title of Doctor of Oriental Medicine (DOM). They can utilize Western medical diagnostic tools, including lab tests, to support their practice.

Doctor of Chiropractic (DC): Chiropractors in Georgia can order lab tests that are necessary for diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal conditions. This includes blood tests, urinalysis, and imaging studies relevant to their practice.

Registered Dietitians (RDs): RDs can order lab tests to monitor the effectiveness of dietary plans, provided they are working in a clinic or hospital. In private practice, RDs can order functional and integrative lab tests through certain individual lab companies. They must meet specific requirements set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Physician Assistants (PAs): PAs can order lab tests under the supervision of a licensed physician. The specific tests they can order are determined by their supervising physician and must be within the scope of the physician's practice. PAs must have a job description document signed by the supervising physician, which delegates the tasks they may perform.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs): APRNs in Georgia, including Nurse Practitioners (NPs), Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs), and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), are authorized to order lab tests as part of their practice. They can diagnose and treat illnesses, prescribe medications, and order and interpret diagnostic tests. APRNs must have a collaborative agreement with a licensed physician, which outlines their specific responsibilities and oversight arrangements.

Types of Labs Available for Ordering

There are several common types of laboratory tests that healthcare providers can order to diagnose, monitor, and treat various medical conditions.

Blood Tests

Blood tests are among the most commonly ordered laboratory tests. They involve analyzing a sample of a patient's blood to evaluate various components and biomarkers. They can help monitor organ function, detect diseases in their early stages, and evaluate how well the body is responding to treatments. Blood tests are used for a wide range of diagnostic purposes, from routine check-ups to specialized disease monitoring, such as managing diabetes or heart disease.


Urinalysis is essential for detecting urinary tract infections, kidney disease, and diabetes. It involves the assessment of physical properties, chemical analysis, and microscopic examination of urine. It is used to diagnose and monitor urinary tract infections, kidney disorders, and metabolic conditions. It can also screen for diseases as part of a routine medical assessment.

Genetic Tests

Genetic testing can provide valuable information about an individual's genetic predisposition to certain health conditions, enabling proactive health management and personalized medicine strategies. These tests are crucial in prenatal screening, cancer screening, and diagnosing rare genetic disorders. They are also used to tailor pharmacological treatments to individuals, known as pharmacogenomics.

Hormonal Testing

Hormones regulate many functions in the body, and imbalances can lead to significant health issues. Testing hormone levels is essential for diagnosing and managing disorders related to the endocrine system. Hormonal tests are used to evaluate endocrine function and guide treatment for hormonal disorders. Common tests include those for estrogen, progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH).

Interpreting and Utilizing Lab Results

Considerations for Interpreting Lab Results

In Georgia, interpreting lab results requires a thorough understanding of the patient's medical history and clinical context. Practitioners must consider the patient's overall health condition, presenting symptoms, and any relevant medical history to accurately interpret lab results.

Additionally, trends over time should be evaluated rather than relying on a single result, as this can provide a clearer picture of the patient's health status and response to treatment. Pre-analytical factors such as specimen collection, handling errors, and patient preparation (e.g., fasting) must also be validated to ensure the reliability and accuracy of the lab results.

Counseling Patients Based on Lab Data

When counseling patients about their lab results, it is essential to communicate findings clearly and effectively. Practitioners should use simple, non-technical language to explain the results and their implications. For example, instead of using medical jargon like "hyperlipidemia," they should say "high cholesterol levels." 

Visual aids such as charts or graphs can help patients understand their results, especially when discussing trends over time. It is also important to provide contextual information, explaining what the reference ranges are and how the patient's results compare to these ranges. 

Discussing the clinical significance of the results and providing a clear action plan, including lifestyle changes, further testing, or new treatments, helps ensure patients understand the importance of the next steps. Encouraging questions and providing educational resources can further support patient engagement and understanding.

Georgia Specific Regulations

In Georgia, the regulations governing lab ordering rights are detailed in the Georgia Code and the rules set by the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH). 

State-Specific Laws and Regulations for Lab Ordering

Licensure Requirements: All clinical laboratories in Georgia must be licensed by the DCH. This includes completing the necessary forms, paying the licensure fee, and undergoing a survey to verify compliance with state licensure requirements before opening for patient testing or specimen collection. 

Quality Control and Compliance: Clinical laboratories must adhere to strict quality control and quality assurance standards to ensure the accuracy and reliability of test results.

Laboratories must comply with both state and federal regulations, including the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA).

Specimen Handling: Proper specimen collection, handling, and transportation are critical to maintaining the integrity of lab results. Any deviations from standard procedures must be documented and considered during result interpretation.

Key Differences from Other States

Licensure Repeal: Georgia recently enacted House Bill 93, which repeals the state's clinical laboratory licensure requirements, laboratory personnel licensure, and state inspections of laboratories. This aligns Georgia with 34 other states that defer to CLIA's laboratory requirements, providing regulatory relief for impacted laboratories.

Direct-to-Consumer Testing: Unlike some states that allow direct-to-consumer (DTC) testing, Georgia requires a written or electronic request for patient testing from an authorized person, such as a licensed healthcare provider. This ensures that lab tests are medically necessary and ordered by qualified professionals.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

Ordering medically necessary tests is crucial to avoid unnecessary procedures and ensure ethical practice. Practitioners must order tests that are directly relevant to the patient's condition to avoid unnecessary healthcare costs and potential harm to the patient. This practice not only aligns with ethical standards but also ensures compliance with legal requirements.

Practitioners have a responsibility to accurately interpret lab results, considering the full context of the patient's health, including medical history, symptoms, and other relevant factors. Accurate interpretation is essential for making informed decisions about diagnosis, treatment, and management, ultimately improving patient outcomes.

Navigating Challenges and Keeping Updated

Practitioners often face challenges in the lab ordering process, such as regulatory compliance and keeping up with new testing technologies. Ensuring compliance with state and federal regulations can be complex, and staying informed about advancements in laboratory testing is essential for accurate test selection and interpretation.

Continuous education and training are vital for healthcare providers to stay updated on the latest regulations, best practices, and advancements in laboratory medicine. By staying informed, practitioners can ensure compliance and provide the best possible care to their patients.

How Rupa Health Can Help

Rupa Health makes it easier for healthcare practitioners to follow lab ordering rules and stay compliant. We offer a single portal where practitioners can order, track, and receive lab results from over 30 different lab companies. This not only simplifies the process but also helps ensure that all regulatory requirements are met.

Rupa Health provides a full range of tools and resources that are free of charge. We are here to help practitioners stay informed and compliant with specialty lab testing. If you are ready to integrate specialty lab testing into your practice, request a demo and see for yourself how easy it is to get started.   


Key Takeaways

  • Healthcare practitioners in Georgia must be aware of the specific regulations governing lab ordering rights. 
  • Interpreting lab results accurately requires considering the patient's medical history, clinical context, and trends over time.
  • Healthcare practitioners in Georgia are encouraged to utilize available resources, such as those offered by Rupa Health, to ensure compliance with lab ordering regulations and provide the best possible care.
The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
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Lab Tests in This Article

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CLIA | Georgia Department of Community Health. (n.d.). Retrieved May 27, 2024, from

Cloyd, J. (2023, April 7). Functional medicine high cholesterol protocol. Rupa Health.

Cloyd, K. (2023, September 7). Unlocking Hormonal Health: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Choosing the Right Hormonal Testing for Your Patients. Rupa Health.

DeGruy, F. (2022, February 3). Functional Medicine Recommended Annual Blood Tests. Rupa Health.

Genetics Testing. (n.d.). Rupa Health.

Georgia Department of Community Health. (n.d.). Georgia Department of Community Health.

House bill 93. (2021).

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