Health record. Your rights. What you need to know.

Patients have the right to access their health records.

All you need to do is to ask your GP to have access to your health record. You can make that request at the Reception. The request to access your health record can be made verbally or in writing. Although, requests in writing is more common and appropriate. Please, note that you will be asked to identify yourself by providing acceptable photo ID – e.g. driver’s license or passport.

After the request was made, a doctor on duty or your regular doctor will have to review and grant the access. This should not take longer than 45 days.

In some cases, the access to medical records s not granted. There are only two possible reasons for that.

1. Your doctor decided that viewing your medical file might harm you in some way. This may be due to psychiatric problem, for example. However, the threshold of ‘possible harm’ is very high. There shouldn’t be many reasons for denial of access.

2. Your file holds some information that belongs to third parties that are not healthcare providers. e.g. neighbors, social services etc. In that case, your doctor might withhold that part of your file from you.

If you disagree with the denial of access, you may lodge the complaint with the Health Complaints Commissioner in your State or territory.

Please, not that the practice may charge you for the accessing your health record. The rule of thumb about what practice may charge you is that the amount of money should reasonably cover the expenses that incurred by the practice in the process of giving you the access.

You may ask the practice to correct your health record if you think the records contains the wrong information. That, normally, concerns medications taken by you or allergies. It is not appropriate to ask to correct doctor’s clinical records. Although, you may demand that as well. If you are not happy with the way your health record being corrected, you may lodge the complaint with the Health Complaints Commissioner in your State or territory.

If you want your record deleted altogether, you may ask for that only in 7 years after the last service provided by the practice. Or, if you were a child when the last service was provided, upon reaching 25 years old.

A private health service provider cannot delete your information until seven years have passed since they last provided you with a health service, or if they last treated you when you were under 18 years old and you’ve since reached 25. Non-health service providers must delete your health information if it is no longer needed for the purpose they collected it.

Your state or territory health complaints organisations where you can complain about all health record-related issues.

State or Territory Contact
National – Aged care All complaints or concerns about aged care services can also be directed to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.
Australian Capital Territory Go to the Health Services Commissioner within the ACT Human Rights Commission website and/or read our joint brochure.
New South Wales Got to the Health Care Complaints Commission website.
Northern Territory Go to the Health And Community Services Complaints Commission (HCSCC) website and/or read our joint brochure.
Queensland Go to the Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) website.
South Australia Go to the Health And Community Services Complaints Commissioner (HCSCC) website and/or read our joint brochure.
Tasmania Go to the Health Complaints Commissioner website and/or read our joint brochure.
Victoria Go to the Health Complaints Commissioner website, or to the Mental Health Complaints Commissioner website and/or read our joint brochure.
Western Australia Go to the Health and Disability Services Complaints Office (HaDSCO) website and/or read our joint brochure.