Any patient aged 14 and over is normally entitled to access their medical records. However, there are certain situations where a patient may be denied access to their own medical records.
MedLégal’s health lawyers explain these situations and the legal recourse available below.
Reasons for refusing access to medical records
There are two main reasons why a patient may be denied access to medical records. Let’s take a closer look at them.
Harm to the patient’s health
First, a patient may be denied access to their medical records if their physician assesses that disclosing this information would likely cause serious harm to their health.
However, this restriction is only temporary and the health care or social services institution must notify the patient concerned as soon as the situation is resolved.
Information from or about another person
Second, a patient may also be denied access to their medical records if they contain information provided by others or if they contain information about persons other than the patient themselves. In this case, the patient will only have access to information that concerns them directly.
However, this rule does not apply to information that has been transmitted by a health professional or an employee of the institution in the course of their duties.
Possible recourse if your access to medical records is refused
Let’s now take a look at the possible recourse if 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. This is done to overturn the decision to deny access.
This written recourse must be submitted within 30 days of the refusal date or time limit for responding to the request.
The Commission will then make sure to review the request.
There are then two possible outcomes. If the patient is successful, the physician has 30 days to comply with the decision of the Commission. If the Commission refuses the request, it must advise the physician to maintain the refusal of access to medical records
The decision of the Commission d’accès à l’information may be appealed to the Court of Québec within the time frame provided for by law.
Other possible recourse
A patient who is denied access to their own medical record can also appeal the decision made by a health care or social services institution.
For example, the patient can request that a judge of the Superior Court or the Court of Quebec review the decision. Patients can also challenge the institution’s decision before the Tribunal administratif du Québec.
How to access your medical records
If you wish to consult your medical record, you can request it from the health care or social services institution that holds it. Simply send your request in writing to the medical records department. If your file is held by a private clinic, your request should be addressed in writing to the privacy officer.
Note that access to your medical file is free. However, depending on the case, reasonable fees may apply to duplicate your file.
Access your medical records with the help of MedLégal
If you need assistance to access your medical records or to take legal action to gain access to medical records, our lawyers are here to help you.