Your Right to Access your Personal Health Information (Medical Records)

Your Right to Access your Personal Health Information (Medical Records)

One of the purposes of the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA), Ontario’s health specific privacy law is to provide individuals with a right of access to personal health information about themselves, subject to limited and specific exceptions set out in the Act.

PHIPA provides rules for access to personal health information. You can exercise your right of access to your records of personal health information by way of a written request to the health information custodian (e.g. the physician, hospital or healthcare facility who has the health information)

Right to access Personal

PHIPA provides that a health information custodian may charge a fee for making the record available to you, or for providing a copy. PHIPA provides that the fee for a copy cannot exceed the amount of “reasonable cost recovery”. The Information Privacy Commissioner’s office through Health Orders, has determined that reasonable cost recovery for a copy of records must not exceed $30.00 for the first 20 pages and 25 cents per page thereafter.

A copy of your own medical records, particularly laboratory results (e.g. blood work), diagnostic test results (e.g. x-ray, CT Scan and MRI reports) and specialist consultation reports can be invaluable when you have been referred to another health care provider for consultation and/or ongoing care and treatment.

It is not uncommon that your primary health care provider as well as healthcare providers that you have been referred to, do not have copies of your personal health information unless they have access to the electronic record where the care and or tests were provided. This can result in duplication of diagnostic tests and/or delays in diagnoses and treatment.

It is also not uncommon to encounter aculture resistant to providing access to personal health information, owing to tradition, practices and legal concerns.

If you encounter difficulties in accessing your records of personal health information, you should speak with the Privacy Office at the healthcare facility.

iCare Navigator has expertise in Ontario’s privacy laws and can provide assistance with concerns or questions relating to access to personal health information.


Mary Gavel is an expert in Healthcare Risk Management, Patient Safety, Patient Relations and Privacy. She has worked in various positions including as a Senior Advisor – Patient Relations at Trillium Health Partners, Chief Privacy Patient Affairs Officer at Women’s College Hospital and Director – Risk Management and Patient Relations at Rouge Valley Health System.