Accessing my medical records

This information sheet is intended to provide guidance to applicants who wish to seek access to their own medical records which may be held by Queensland Government Hospital and Health Services.

It does not apply to medical records held by a privately operated healthcare professional or facility (such as your local medical centre, dentist, or a private hospital).

What is a Hospital and Health Service?

Recent changes to the health system in Queensland mean that public health services are now provided through 17 stand-alone Hospital and Health Services.  The Hospital and Health Services are responsible for managing requests for access to the medical records they hold.

Each Hospital and Health Service is comprised of numerous hospitals, clinics and other facilities.  For example, the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital is now part of the Metro North Hospital and Health Service which also includes the Prince Charles Hospital, Caboolture Hospital and the Toowong Community Health Centre (amongst others).

A list of the facilities that form part of each Hospital and Health Service can be found on the Queensland Health website: http://www.health.qld.gov.au/services/default.asp

How can I seek access to my medical records?

The Hospital and Health Service that holds your medical records should be able to provide you with information about how to make your request.

You may be able to make your request to the Hospital and Health Service by simply asking to access your medical records or you may be required to complete an administrative access form provided by the Hospital and Health Service that holds your records.

If your medical records are held by more than one Hospital or Health Service, you may need to make separate access requests to each one.

You will need to provide evidence of your identity when you request access to your medical records so that the hospital and health service can make sure they are releasing your personal information back to you.

Note that access requests can still be made to Queensland Health should they hold your medical records (or documents) you are seeking.

If you are unable to access your records through administrative access, you can make an access application to the Hospital and Health Service under the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) (IP Act) or the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) (RTI Act).

How do I apply for access to my medical records under the IP Act or RTI Act?

Both the RTI Act and the IP Act allow people to apply for documents containing information. The IP Act creates a right for individuals to apply for their own personal information. The RTI Act creates a right for individuals to apply for all other information.

In most instances, an application for access to your own medical records will be made under the IP Act.

Your application under the IP Act must meet certain requirements before the Hospital and Health Service can begin processing it.  This includes, for example, providing evidence of your identity – if you are providing a photocopy of your ID, then the copy will need to be certified by a Justice of the Peace (JP), Lawyer or Commissioner for Declarations (C.Dec).

If your medical records happen to include a document that does not contain your personal information (for example, a hospital brochure or information about another family member) and you want access to it, you would need to make your application under the RTI Act, rather than under the IP Act.

another family member) then you may be required to make your application under the RTI Act, rather than under the IP Act.

The application process under the RTI Act is similar to applying for access to your medical records under the IP Act.  However, there is an application fee and processing and access charges may also apply.

Because you are still seeking access to some of your medical records that contain your personal information, you will most likely still need to provide evidence of your identity when making your access application under the RTI Act.

For information on how to make an application under the RTI or IP Act, please refer to How do I apply for government documents.

Will I get access to my medical records under the IP Act or RTI Act?

Yes, in most cases you will get access to your own medical records by making a formal access application to the Hospital and Health Service that holds the records.

However, in some circumstances, you may not get full access to your medical records.  If this occurs, the Hospital and Health Service must provide you with reasons why they have refused access and outline your rights to seek a review of their decision.

For further information about your review rights, please refer to the OIC Information Sheet: Explaining your review rights – a guide for applicants.

In some cases, the Hospital and Health Service may decide to refuse to provide you with direct access to your medical records if they have formed the view that giving it to you directly would be contrary to your best interests because it might be harmful to your physical or mental health or wellbeing.

For further information about this type of decision, please refer to the OIC Information Sheet: What to do if an agency decides access can only be given through a healthcare professional.

What if my records are older than ten years?

Under the Health Sector (Clinical Records) Retention and Disposal Schedule, where it has been ten years since there was any action on your medical record, ie ten years since you were last seen by the hospital, the medical record is eligible to be destroyed. If you were a child when you were last seen by the hospital, the date the record becomes eligible for destruction is ten years from the date you turned eighteen.

This does not automatically mean that the record has been destroyed, it simply means that it is possible.

If you believe you are in this situation, before you make your application you may want to consider checking with the relevant Hospital and Health Service. They may be able to make enquiries or perform searches to find out if your record still exists.  Be aware that these initial informal enquiries are not an application under the IP Act or RTI Act and you cannot seek a review of them.

Where can I find information about accessing my medical records held by a private healthcare professional or facility?

Privately operated healthcare professionals and facilities (such as your local doctor, dentist or a private hospital) are not covered by the IP Act or the RTI Act.

This means that you cannot apply to them for access to your medical records under the IP Act and RTI Act.  However, they are covered by the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) can provide further information about the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988 and also how you can access any of your medical records that are held by a private healthcare professional or facility.  The OAIC can be contacted on 1300 363 992. Alternatively, further information is available on their website at www.oaic.gov.au.

Current as at: August 31, 2017