Requesting Your Personal Health Information

Your personal health information is perhaps the most sensitive and intimate information you have. Understandably, you want to be ensured that it is being handled properly and responsibly.

We ensure your statutory health privacy rights are protected.

Our office oversees the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA), Ontario’s health privacy legislation. PHIPA establishes rules on how your personal health information is collected, used and disclosed within the health sector. As a patient in Ontario, PHIPA gives you greater control over how your personal health information is handled by health information custodians.

PHIPA’s objective is to strike a balance between keeping your personal health information confidential and secure, while allowing for the effective delivery of health care services.

 

WHAT ARE MY ACCESS RIGHTS UNDER ONTARIO’S HEALTH PRIVACY LEGISLATION?

You have a statutory right to access and request a copy of your personal health information held by a health information custodian.


HOW DO I ACCESS MY PERSONAL HEALTH INFORMATION?

You can contact your health information custodian directly to request access to your personal health information.

However, you may be asked to make a formal request in writing. You can formally request access to your personal health information by writing a letter or completing this Request to Access Personal Health Information Form. If you have a substitute decision-maker who is authorized to consent on your behalf, that person can make the request for you.

Once completed, the form or letter should be submitted directly to your health information custodian.

Health information custodians are allowed, depending on the circumstances, 30 to 60 calendar days to respond to your request.


CAN I BE DENIED ACCESS TO MY PERSONAL HEALTH INFORMATION?

Generally, health information custodians are responsible for assisting you by providing access to your personal health information. They may only refuse your request in limited situations, including if:

  • Your personal health information is subject to a legal privilege.
  • Access to your personal health information could reasonably be expected to result in a risk of serious harm to your treatment or recovery or serious bodily harm to you or another person.
  • Your personal health information was collected as part of an inspection, investigation or similar procedure and the resulting proceedings, appeals or processes have not yet been concluded.
  • Another law prohibits the disclosure of your personal health information.

If a health information custodian denies your request to access your personal health information, they must explain to you the reason(s) for doing so.


DO I HAVE THE RIGHT TO FILE A COMPLAINT IF I AM DENIED ACCESS?

Yes, you have the right to file a complaint if you are denied access to your personal health information by completing this Access/Correction Complaint Form. Once you complete this form, please mail it to our office.

 

WILL I BE CHARGED A FEE FOR ACCESS TO MY PERSONAL HEALTH INFORMATION?

Under PHIPA, a health information custodian may charge you a fee to access your personal health information, but the fee must not exceed the amount of reasonable cost recovery.

At their discretion, health information custodians may waive the payment of all or any part of the fee that is required if, in their opinion, it is fair and equitable to do so.

A health information custodian could also a charge a fee for transferring your personal health information to another health information custodian.

In 2010, our office issued recommended fee guidelines on the amount of the fee that may be charged to patients for access to their personal health information. For more information, please read Health Order (HO-009).

 

CAN I FILE A COMPLAINT IF I BELIEVE THIS FEE IS UNREASONABLE?

Yes, you have the right to file a complaint if you feel the fee for access to your personal health information is unreasonable. This Access/Correction Complaint Form can be used for this purpose. Once you complete this form, please mail it to our office.