Accessing personal health information
- Do I have a right of access to health information about me?
- Making a request for access to my health information
- Timeframe for providing access to information
- Will I be charged a fee?
- How may access be provided?
- Can they refuse to give me access to the health information?
- If I’m denied access on the grounds that giving me the information would pose a serious threat to my life or health, can I get a second opinion?
- What if I believe that I haven’t been given proper or complete access to my health information?
The Health Records (Privacy and Access) Act 1997 sets out a consumer’s entitlement to access his or her health records.
Consumers seeking access to the information in a health record, or to the record itself, should initially consult their health service provider. A health service provider may ask that a request for access be put in writing.
If the record keeper gives access to a health records, access must be given as follows:
- for a request to inspect the health record, at a time and place specified in writing
- for a request to receive a copy of the health record, a copy of the health record or a summary
- for a request to view health record and have its contents explained at time place specified in writing.
- give access to the health record in accordance with the Act
- give notice if the health record, or part of the record, cannot be produced and provide the reasons
- give notice if the health record, or part of the record, is exempt from access and state the ground for the exemption
- if a fee is payable, give notice that access will be provided on payment of the fee.
Link to ACT Health records management team.
How do I make the request?
You should contact the organisation or individual health professional to ask them about the steps you must take to obtain access to your health information.
You can make your request for access orally or in writing to the organisation or person that holds health information about you. You should approach or write to the particular service provider, or the privacy officer or person responsible for information management in the organisation.
If you make an oral request, the organisation that holds the information may ask you to put your request in writing (which may be a form to complete), which you should then do.
The organisation may ask for some proof of your identity when making your request.
What if I’m making the request on behalf of somebody else?
If you are seeking access on behalf of somebody else, because you are their authorised representative, or if you are the legal representative of a deceased person, then you must make your request in writing and provide evidence of your authority to act on another person’s behalf.
What do I put in my request?
In your request, you need to:
- state your name and, if not already known to the organisation, your address
- identify the health information you are seeking access to in sufficient detail
- specify the form you want the access in.
Holders of health information don’t have to charge a fee for providing you with access to your health information but they are allowed to if they want to. The fees are limited by law. Organisations cannot charge more than the maximum amount specified in the Health Records (Privacy & Access Act) 1997 or the Health Act 1993 . Some types of access will cost more than others; eg getting an explanation from a health service provider will cost more than getting a copy of the documents, but sometimes getting an explanation will be important for you.
Health Records (Privacy and Access) (Fees) Determination 2011 (No 2)
Please find at the link below, the schedule referred to in the Determination of Fees under section 34 of the Health Records (Privacy and Access) Act 1997. If you have difficulty reading or accessing this page, please contact the Health Services Team at the Human Rights Commission for information about the schedule of fees.
The Health Records Privacy & Access Act 1997 sets out a consumer's entitlement to access his or her records. Consumers seeking access to the information in a health record, or to the record itself, should initially consult their health service provider. A health service provider may ask that a request for access be put in writing.
There are circumstances where a health record (or part of the record) will not be made available to the consumer to whom the record relates:
- if the health record relates to a report under the Children and Young People Act 1999 or a notification under the Children's Services Act 1986 and the person who made the report could be identified from information in the health record
- if the record keeper believes that the provision of the information would risk the life or health of the consumer or another person
- if access would constitute a breach of confidence.
If an exemption is made on the
You may first wish to raise the matter with the health provider. If you have no success in resolving the issue with the provider, you may consider making a complaint to the Health Services Commissioner here at the ACT Human Rights Commission on (02) 6205 2222.Last updated 07 Aug 2012