Did you know that you have the right to access your medical records at any time, for any reason? It’s the law!
Generally speaking, anyone 14 or older is entitled to access their medical records. However, there are exceptional situations where a patient may be denied access.
In this article, the health lawyers at MedLégal go over valid reasons for refusal and ways to assert your rights and access your medical records.
Reasons for refusing access to medical records
There are two main reasons why a patient may be denied access to their medical records. Let’s take a closer look at them.
Information that would harm the patient’s health
A patient may be denied access to their medical records if their doctor believes that disclosing the information the records contain would be seriously detrimental to their health. The patient feeling hurt or shocked by the information is not considered a sufficient reason.
For example, a health care professional has the right to deny a psychiatric patient access to information in their medical records if it might trigger a suicide.
However, the restriction is temporary, and the institution providing the health care or social services is obligated to notify the patient in question as soon as the situation is resolved. Following that, you can reiterate your request for the information and assert your rights in a psychiatric context.
Information from or about another person
A patient may be denied access to their medical records if they contain information provided by others. They may also be refused access if the medical records include information about people other than themselves. In such cases, the patient will only be allowed access to the information that concerns them directly.
However, this rule does not apply to information that has been transmitted by a health professional or employee of the institution in the course of their work.
Recourse available if you are denied access to your medical records
Now, let’s take a look at what recourse is available when a patient is refused access to their medical records.
Recourse before the Commission d’accès à l’information
A patient who is denied access to their medical records may first appeal to the Commission d’accès à l’information. The goal of the appeal is to overturn the decision to deny access.
The appeal must be submitted in writing within 30 days of the refusal. You can also submit an appeal if the doctor or health care institution has not responded to your request for information within 30 days. If you so choose, you can always have a health lawyer or a person of your choice represent you in your appeal.
The Commission will review your request and make a decision.
When appealing to the Commission, there are two possible outcomes. If the Commission finds in favour of the patient, the doctor or institution has 30 days to comply. If the Commission refuses the request, it will notify the doctor or institution to uphold the refusal.
The decision made by the Commission d’accès à l’information may be challenged before the Court of Quebec within the time frame prescribed by law.
Other possible recourse
A patient who is denied access to their own medical records has other recourse available to contest the decision made by a health or social services institution.
For example, the patient can ask for a judge of the Superior Court or the Court of Quebec to review the decision. They can also challenge the institution’s decision before the Tribunal administratif du Québec.
How to access your medical records
If you want to exercise your right to access your medical records, you can request them from the health or social services institution that holds them. Simply send your request in writing to the medical records department. If your records are held by a private clinic, you should send your request in writing to the privacy officer.
Accessing your medical records is free, but you may be charged a reasonable fee for duplicating them, depending on the case.
Exercise your right to access your medical records with the help of MedLégal
If you need help accessing your medical records or want to take legal action to gain access, our lawyers are here for you.
Contact MedLégal today. Our specialized lawyers are here to help you assert your rights and access your medical records.