Medical Records: Solutions When Access Is Refused


If your request to see a medical record has been refused, you can ask the Commission d’accès à l’information (access to information commission) to change the decision. You can also apply to the Commission if the health care institution has not answered a request for access within 30 days.  

If the medical records are in a public health care institution (for example, a hospital), you must send an application for review to the Commission.  

If the medical records are in a private clinic, you must send an application for examination of a disagreement to the Commission. 

Important! The Commission d’accès à l’information will only consider the reasons and documents submitted with the first request for access. The person asking for access cannot give new arguments or submit documents that were not filed with the first request for access.

Application to the Commission d’accès à l’information 

An application to the Commission must be filed within 30 days of the institution’s refusal to allow access or within 30 days of the expiry of the time limit to respond. The application for review or the application for examination of a disagreement must be in writing and clearly explain the reasons for the request. 

Note: Commission staff members you help you prepare an application for review or application for examination of a disagreement. 

If the Commission finds that the person asking to see the medical records and the institution or clinic cannot reach an agreement, then it examines the request for access. The people involved have a chance to explain their arguments to the Commission. The Commission makes a written decision explaining its reasons and sends a copy to the people involved.  

  • If the Commission allows the request for access, it forwards its decision to the doctor treating the patient.
  • If the Commission refuses the request, it notifies the doctor in writing not to let the patient see the file.  

In some cases, the Commission’s decision can be challenged before the Court of Quebec. The appeal must be filed within 30 days of the refusal of the request for access. 

Other Ways to Challenge Refusal by a Public Health Institution  

There are other ways to challenge an institution’s refusal to allow access to medical records:  

  • A judge of the Superior Court or the Court of Quebec can review the decision of a public health care institution. For more information on the steps to follow, please visit the Legal System section of our website. 
  • The decision of a public health care institution can also be challenged before the Tribunal administratif du Québec (administrative tribunal). This challenge must be started within 60 days of the refusal of the request for access.   

A legal specialist can help you understand the differences between the various options.