Yes, but there are exceptions.
If a practitioner or hospital (public or private) decides that it would be harmful to a patient to allow him/her access to their medical records, access can be denied. However, you can challenge a decision by a hospital/doctor who denies you access to your records (see below).
Your records held by public hospitals are generally available for access by you or your legal practitioner after you have provided written consent or authority and paid the required fee.
Records held by private hospitals, however, are generally more difficult to obtain despite consent or authority from an individual. Higher fees will generally be charged.
Australian law says that an individual does not own his/her medical records. A private practitioner, such as your GP, owns the medical record.
Yes but access can only be obtained with your consent or by Court process (a subpoena).
No access to your medical records can be given to a third party, such as an insurer/pathologist/other medical practitioner unless you provide your consent.
Your request must:
Private Hospitals are entitled to make other arrangements for access to Health Information they hold. Each facility will have a specific procedure and paperwork that must be completed and followed before access will be granted.
A Doctor/Hospital must respond to your request within 45 days and advise whether they are going to allow you access or allow or refuse you access to the information.
If you are refused access then you must be provided with a written reason for the refusal and that refusal must be written and provided in accordance with the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002. If the Doctor/Hospital fails to respond to your request, then they are taken to have refused you access.
Yes. Hospitals and practitioners impose fees for retrieval of your records and photocopying expenses.
Public hospitals currently charge $33.00 (including GST) for access to a copy of a "reasonable" size medical record.
Additional costs are imposed for lengthy documents, eg, admissions to the intensive care unit.
Private hospitals differ in their fees and charges. You will obtain that information from the medical records department.
Yes but generally only in the following circumstances:
You are only entitled to access your health information. If, however, you wish to obtain health information about your child or next-of-kin, then special rules will apply.
You can obtain health information about your children if you provide sufficient identification that you are a parent. Please note that special rules may apply if you are non-custodial parent. In this case, you may need to obtain the consent from the custodial parent. If you wish to obtain such information for Family Court or other proceedings, then the best way to obtain this information is to issue a Subpoena for Production to obtain that health information.
A subpoena can only be issued by a Court to a hospital or doctor if you have commenced or are a party to litigation (legal proceedings) in a Court of law.
As a rule, you will not be granted health information in the following circumstances:
If you are refused access to your medical records on the grounds that access poses a serious threat to your life or health, you may be able to request that your records be forwarded to a registered doctor but your request must be made within 21 days after you are notified that you have been refused access.
If so, your medical records must be provided to your doctor within 21 days.
If you think your privacy has been breached by a doctor/hospital, you can make a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner. The Commissioner has the power to investigate, conduct conciliation and make determinations about complaints. The Commissioner will not investigate a claim that is found to be trivial or without foundation, and an investigation will not be undertaken by the Commissioner unless you first lodge a complaint with the Doctor/Hospital who you allege has breached your privacy.