Living with Chronic Pain
How to Obtain Medical Records in Canada
Canadians have a legal right to their medical records. In 1992, the Supreme Court of Canada declared that the information contained in medical records belongs to the “patient,” and the physical record belongs to the organization responsible for it.
Each Canadian province and territory has specific laws regarding the sharing of personal health care information. Generally, health care providers, hospitals, and other health care custodians cannot share an individual’s health care information without their approval. However, some specific circumstances, such as court orders, may require disclosure regardless of approval.
Each province and territory has rules and regulations regarding the retention of medical records. Physicians are required to keep medical records from 5 to 16 years, depending on location. To access medical records, an individual or their representative must make a formal request in writing. Some hospitals and larger organizations often have specific forms for this purpose.
Cost and timeline
The cost to request and obtain personal medical records varies in each province. Each Canadian province and territory has a minimum fee. When medical records are requested, the custodian of the records should:
- provide an estimate of the total fee prior to providing copies.
- provide an itemized bill (upon request).
- charge a reasonable fee.
- provide records within 30 days of the request.