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Personal medical records (Ontario)

Do I legally own the data this org has about me?


In 1993 the Supreme Court of Canada decision in the McInerney v. MacDonald case made it clear that the information in the medical record belongs to the patient.


The physical record belongs to the person or organization responsible for its creation (eg. the hospital or physician). The owner of the physical record is responsible for controlling access to it (including requests to see your own record) in accordance with privacy law. [1]

Can I see all the data they have about me, for free?


Under Ontario's Personal Health Information Protection Act, you have a right to see the content of your record at any time and for any reason (with certain exceptions, like if there is likelihood of harm to you). [1]

You can ask your doctor, clinic or hospital if there is a procedure for requesting your health records, and you may be required to make a request in writing. eHealth Ontario also provides a list of organizations that can provide printed copies of your electronic health records. Health care providers have 30-60 days to respond to your request [2].

However, physicians can charge you a "reasonable fee" to cover costs of the materials, staff time, and correspondence needed to make all or part of your health record available [3]. These costs can vary widely. A 2013 story covered by the CBC and Globe and Mail revealed that a Thunder Bay woman who was told the getting a copy of her medical records would cost $617.

Your health records are currently not available online.

eHealth Ontario says that it is working with Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s Patient First Strategy to "look at ways to provide patient access electronically in the near future." It's unclear whether there will be a fee to access your electronic health record online, once that option is available.

Research Status

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primary research
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