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How to Access your Medical Records & Information

Access to your health records and information along with the privacy of your health information is covered by the Health Records & Information Privacy Act 2002 (NSW) (HRIP Act).

You have a right to access health information about you that is held by any organization that provides a health service to you, whether it is a private sector organization like a GP or Physiotherapist or a Government body like a public hospital.

Private Sector Organisations, such as GP records –

You can request access to your health information from a private sector organization, such as a GP, dentist, or physiotherapist under the HRIP Act, the request must be:

  • In writing.
  • Include your name and address.
  • Identify the health information being requested.
  • How you would like to access the health information (for example, if you would like a copy).
  • If you want someone else to access your health information on your behalf. You will need to provide the name of that person or health organization you are authorizing to access your information.

The health service provider must make its decision within 45 calendar days of receiving the request and is entitled to charge a fee for providing access to that health information.

The health service provider can decline to provide access to your information on the following basis,

  • Providing access would provide a serious threat to your health.
  • Providing access would have an unreasonable impact on the privacy of other individuals.
  • The health information relates to existing or anticipated legal proceedings and you would not be able to access this information through a court process.
  • Providing access would be unlawful.

If you are unhappy with the response received from the health service provider, you can contact the NSW Privacy Commissioner, through the Privacy Commission NSW (IPC).

Public Sector Organisations such as hospitals

A public sector organization that holds health information, must at the request of the individual release any information that relates to the individual and without excessive delay or expense, provide the individual with access to that information.

Access to documents must be made in the same manner as outlined above in relation to private organizations.  Government organizations are also bound by the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998, which also allows for health information to be provided.

Both public and private organizations must comply with the Health Privacy Principles. The Principles are contained in Schedule 1 of the HRIP Act.

Government Information can be made by an informal request, similar to that outlined above for private organizations. If this has been refused, then you can make a GIPA Access Application Form to request information from an NSW agency.

Most public sector organizations will have a GIPA form on their website for you to complete, such an application must be,

  • Must be in writing.
  • Lodged with the correct agency.
  • State that you are seeking information under the GIPA Act.
  • Include your name.
  • Include your postal and email address for response.
  • Be clear and specific about the information you seek.
  • Pay the $30 application fee.

An agency may also require you to prove your identity before being provided with any personal information. The application process will take up to 20 working days unless you agree to an extension of time. If the agency needs to seek information from a third party or from archives the agency may take in additional 10 to 15 working days.

If your application has not been processed within that time it is considered a “deemed refusal” and the application fee will be refunded.

The Standard fee is $30 but the agency may charge further processing fees and can ask for up to 50% of that processing fee paid in advance.

If you are dissatisfied with the decision made by a government agency, then you can seek an internal review by the Government agency or a subsequent review by the NSW Information Commissioner as follows.

 

GARLING AND CO LAWYERS

May 2021

Matthew Garling

Matthew Garling, Founder of Garling & Co is a NSW Law Society Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law. He specialises in compensation law and has acted on behalf of thousands of injured people in work accidents, motor vehicle accidents and negligence cases over the last 20 years.

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