Clients often ask whether they are entitled to copies of their full medical records (information not available on their My Health Record).
The answer is generally yes although in our experience, sometimes medical practitioners are reluctant to release them.
The following 2 Acts identify the circumstances in which a patient is entitled to a copy of their medical records:
- the Freedom of Information Act 1991, which is South Australian legislation;
- the Privacy Act 1988, which is Commonwealth legislation.
The Freedom of Information Act applies to public authorities in general so regulates access to records of all public hospitals eg Royal Adelaide Hospital, Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Mount Gambier Hospital etc.
Obtaining copies of your medical records from a public hospital is relatively straightforward, although there can be lengthy delays in receiving the copies, depending upon the hospital involved.
Release of records from any other health provider, such as a GP, specialist, private hospital, physiotherapist or similar is covered by the Privacy Act.
Medical evidence is critical in a personal injury claim.
The medical records of the treating doctors, hospitals and health providers consist of a contemporaneous record of the symptoms a claimant has experienced relevant to the claim, they assist in understanding the diagnosis for the injuries or illness involved, and they help identify to what extent the claimant’s work capacity and day to day life has been effected by their injury / illness.
As specialist personal injury lawyers, we will advise you regarding which medical records ought to be obtained to assist with your claim, undertake the process of obtaining the records for you, and assist you to understand the acronyms and medical terminology used to describe your condition.