Accessing or correcting your personal health information

The IPC oversees Ontario’s health privacy law, the Personal Health Information Protection Act. Under that law, you have the right to request access or corrections to your health records. Below are some common questions about that process.

Accessing your health records

How do I access my health records?

How do I access my health records?

Contact the custodian of your health records, such as a doctor, clinic or hospital, to request access.

The custodian might ask you to make a formal request, in writing. You can write a letter or use this Access/Correction Request Form. If you have a substitute decision-maker (someone authorized to consent on your behalf), they can make the request for you.

Once completed, submit the letter or form directly to the custodian. Depending on the circumstances, they have 30 to 60 calendar days to respond to your request.

Ontario’s health privacy law allows a custodian to provide you with access in response to an informal, oral request; but they can ask you to submit your request in writing.

Will I be charged a fee?

Will I be charged a fee?

Most likely. A custodian can charge a fee to access or transfer your health records. However, they have the discretion to waive the fee.

If the custodian is going to charge you a fee, they must first provide you with an estimate.

The fee cannot amount to more than what the custodian reasonably needs to recover the cost of providing access. Our office published fee guidelines for the health sector as part of Health Order (HO-009). Custodians must follow these guidelines as they reflect the IPC’s interpretation of what is considered “reasonable.”

If you are not satisfied with the estimate or the total fee, you can file a complaint with the IPC.

Can I be denied access?

Can I be denied access?

Possibly. The custodian is generally required to provide you with access to your health records if you have made a formal request. However, they may refuse your request in some situations, such as:

  • your health records are subject to a legal privilege such as solicitor-client confidentiality
  • access to your health records may result in a risk of serious harm to you or another person
  • your health records are part of an inspection, investigation, or similar procedure that has not yet been concluded
  • another law prohibits disclosure of your health records

It is also important to note that your right of access does not include some health information—such as raw data from standardized psychological tests or assessments or information that is used solely for the purposes of approved research.

If a custodian denies your formal request, they must provide you with the reason(s) for doing so. If you are not satisfied with the reasons, you can file a complaint with the IPC.

You cannot file a complaint with the IPC if the custodian denies access based on an informal, oral request. You can only file a complaint with the IPC if the custodian denies access after you have made a formal request in writing.

How do I file a complaint if I am denied access or the fee is too high?

How do I file a complaint if I am denied access or the fee is too high?

You can file a complaint by completing our Access/Correction Complaint Form. You can also print the form and mail it to us or write us a letter describing the situation.  A substitute decision-maker (who is authorized to consent on your behalf) can also submit the complaint for you.

File a complaint now.

Or, send a letter or a completed form to:

Registrar
Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario
1400-2 Bloor Street East
Toronto, ON M4W 1A8

Correcting your health records

Do I have the right to request a correction to my health records?

Do I have the right to request a correction to my health records?

You may request a correction to your health records if you have been granted access to the records and you believe they contain inaccurate or incomplete information. The custodian of your health records, such as a doctor, clinic or hospital, must correct your health records if you can demonstrate, to their satisfaction, that your records are incomplete or inaccurate and you supply the correct information.

The custodian might ask you to submit a formal request, in writing. You can either write a letter or use this Access/Correction Request Form. A substitute decision-maker (who is authorized to consent on your behalf) can also make the request for you.

Once completed, submit the letter or form directly to the custodian. Depending on the circumstances, they are allowed 30 to 60 calendar days to respond to your request.

Ontario’s health privacy law allows a custodian to correct your health records in response to an informal, oral request; but they can ask you to submit your request in writing. Furthermore, the custodian is not required to correct records at your request if they are no longer using the health information.

Can they deny my correction request?

Can they deny my correction request?

Yes. The custodian can deny your correction request if:

  • they are not satisfied that the record is incomplete or inaccurate for the purposes for which they use the health information
  • they are not satisfied that you have provided the information needed to make the correction
  • the record you want corrected was not originally created by them and they do not have sufficient knowledge, expertise or authority to correct it
  • the record contains professional opinions or observations that were made in good faith

If the custodian denies your request, they are required to provide you with notice explaining the reason(s) why. That notice must also inform you what you are entitled to do, including making a complaint about the refusal to the IPC.

You cannot file a complaint with the IPC if the custodian denies access based on an informal, oral request. You can only file a complaint if the custodian denies access after you have made a formal request in writing.

How do I file a complaint if the custodian denies my request for a correction?

How do I file a complaint if the custodian denies my request for a correction?

You can file a complaint by completing our Access/Correction Complaint Form. You can also print the form and mail it to us, or write us a letter describing the situation.  A substitute decision-maker (who is authorized to consent on your behalf) can also submit the complaint for you.

File a complaint now.

Or, send a letter or a completed form to:

Registrar
Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario
1400-2 Bloor Street East
Toronto, ON M4W 1A8

 

File an access/correction complaint now