I think my doctor is charging me too much to give me access to my medical records. What can I do?
Under the National Privacy Principles in the Privacy Act, doctors and other health service providers can charge you for giving you access to your medical records, as long as the fee is not excessive.
The Privacy Act doesn't say what an excessive fee is. The access fee can cover reasonable costs for providing access, but you can't be charged just for making an access request (see NPP 6.4).
Fees for access could include:
- Reasonable costs of resources, such as photocopying or reproducing records in other forms.
- Reasonable costs for time and labour, including:
- work performed by clerical staff; and
- if necessary, professional costs, such as where a doctor needs to review the file before information is released, or provide access by way of an extra consultation.
The cost of obtaining legal or other professional advice on complying with the Privacy Act is normally seen as an ordinary business expense, and should not be transferred to a single patient. While you may need to pay part of these expenses incurred by your doctor, it will usually be excessive if you are expected to pay the full expense.
If you think that you are being charged an excessive fee for access to your medical records, you do have rights to make a complaint. Information on this is available at http://www.privacy.gov.au/complaints/#complaint.