You and Your Medical Records
From time to time, patients call us with questions about their medical records. The most common questions are about who owns the medical record — you or your doctor — and whether or not patients are entitled to a copy of their record.
So, who owns your medical record? Well, the physician is the “custodian” of your medical record and he or she has a legal obligation to keep it for a specified period of time — generally 10 years from the date of the last entry. While this in essence does make the physician the ‘owner’ of your record, he or she is not allowed to share the information in your medical record with a third party without your consent or unless the physician has a legal obligation to share the information.
As the patient, however, you are entitled to ask for and receive a copy of your medical record. The most frequent reason why you might want to have a copy is when you leave the care of one physician and want to provide the new physician with your medical history.
Doctors are allowed to charge a reasonable fee for copying and providing you with the record, as this service is not covered by OHIP, but the physician must advise you of the fee in advance. Asking you to pre-pay the fee is allowed as long as withholding the chart does not impact your health and safety.
When you need a copy of your medical record, submit your request in writing to your physician. He or she has 30 days in which to respond. Your doctor will let you know if he or she is having any difficulty facilitating your request and, if this is the case, another 30 days is permitted to complete the task.
There are a few limited circumstances where a doctor may refuse your request, as outlined in s. 52 of the Personal Health Information Protection Act . In such circumstances your doctor is expected to clearly explain the reasons to you.
You can learn more about accessing your medical records by reviewing our Medical Records policy. If you have any questions about your medical record or any other aspect of your medical care, call or email our Advisory Services Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-967-2600 ext. 603. We will be pleased to talk to you.
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