Accessing the personal health information of a deceased relative

There may be many reasons why obtaining the personal health information of your deceased relative is important to you. As the surviving relative, it may allow you to make knowledgeable decisions about your own health care or that of another relative.

Ontario’s health privacy legislation, the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA), permits the disclosure of personal health information about a deceased individual in certain circumstances. When a person dies, the estate trustee, executor or the person who has assumed responsibility for the administration of the deceased relative’s estate becomes the substitute decision-maker and may request access to the deceased individual’s personal health information. This Request to Access Personal Health Information Form can be used for this purpose.

Substitute decision-makers can also request corrections be made to the deceased individual’s record of personal health information by completing this Request to Correct Personal Health Information Form.

Once completed, the form(s) should be submitted directly to the health information custodian.

If I am not the substitute decision-maker can I still request access to the personal health information of a deceased relative?

Under PHIPA, a health information custodian may only disclose the personal health information of a deceased individual if the substitute decision-maker consents to the disclosure or as permitted or required by PHIPA.

PHIPA permits a health information custodian to disclose personal health information about a deceased individual:

  • for the purpose of identifying the individual;
  • for the purpose of informing any person whom it is reasonable to inform of the fact that the individual is deceased and the circumstances of death, where appropriate; or
  • to the spouse, partner, sibling or child of the deceased individual if the recipients of the information reasonably require the information to make decisions about their own health care or their children’s health care.


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