5. How to access your medical records


Click here for a Template for Records Requests Click here for a Freedom of Information Letter template


WA Private Health services

  • If the service is private (GP, psychiatrist, specialist clinic, private hospital), your information will be kept and released in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988.
  • You can apply for your records via a Privacy Act form, which most hospitals will have available on their website.
  • The alternative is to email, call or mail, writing a letter requesting the records, including the service name, the dates, the specific documents you would like (clinical notes, test results, referrals, reports, discharge summaries, admission forms).
  • You will need to submit one or two forms of ID which may need to be certified (driver’s licence, passport, Medicare card, pension card, bank card). Certification may be done by the privacy officers.
  • The Privacy Act does not apply to deceased persons, and evidence that the applicant is the executor of the deceased person’s will is required.


WA Public Health Services

  • If the service is public (public hospital, community mental health service)
  • Your information will be kept and released in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 1992.
  • All public health services will have a Freedom of Information office which deals exclusively with these requests. Most public services will have a FOI form, or you can use a letter template available on our website to request your records. The alternative is to call or email your request.
  • You will need to include the service name, the dates, the specific documents you would like (clinical notes, test results, referrals, reports, discharge summaries, admission forms), and one or two forms of ID which may need to be certified.


How can I get incorrect personal information changed?

First, contact the service to discuss whether it will correct that information without the need for you to make a formal FOI or Privacy Amendment application.
If you need to make a formal request to the service, it will need to:

  • Be in writing
  • Give enough details to identify the relevant document
  • Point to what information you believe is inaccurate, and explain why, with evidence, and
  • Say how you want the information changed

Having records deleted or edited is quite rare, but having a note inserted which details your experience and truth allows for your voice to be heard in the context of your experience and your medical records.  Records are rarely changed because they reflect one professionals opinion at that one place in time, and to dispute this successfully requires a lot of irrefutable evidence. 

The option of including a note in your file instead of having your records amended is often an empowering experience.  You are able to write it (usually keep it to 1-2 pages), and you are able to request that it be placed permanently in your file.  

Example of Note in Records



Is there a charge/financial cost to access my medical records?

There may be an administrative charge with either private or public process, however you are able to ask that this be waived if it will be a financial stress.  You can also request the records be sent electronically to save on printing charges.  Most personal applications for records will be free though. 

Will I get my complete records?

You may, and you may not. It depends on what you requested in your application, and it also depends on the content of your records.  If there is a high volume of records, the officers may ask you to narrow down your time or requested documents. Records older than 7 years may be inaccessible.  We often experience reduced records/higher levels of redaction for consumers with mental health concerns on their records. 

Will my information be redacted/blacked out so I am unable to read it?

Any personal information pertaining to a third party will likely be redacted. This includes names and contact information, and details about third parties.  This includes their comments, personal details and references to third parties by yourself and health professionals.  The names of health professionals may also be redacted.  If they are and you are wanting your records specifically for the names of the health professionals involved in your care, you can call the FOI/Privacy department and ask for the names specifically.  

My records are from a mental health ward or service. Will I get them?

You may, and you may not. Each service has a duty to ensure that the release of records will not cause harm, and so they may refuse, or may only release the records to a third party with a health qualification/person in the hospital (GP, therapist, social worker).

Often, any records from Princess Margaret Hospital (accessed through Perth Children’s Hospital) will require the records to be given to a health professional or explained to you at PCH with a healthcare worker/social worker.  

The hospital may call you to assess if they feel it will be safe to release the records to you, particularly if they contain reference to any difficult or distressing material or experiences. 

Some hospitals may refuse to release records if you are currently an inpatient with them or with another service. 

The Department have refused access to my records. What can I do?

Contact the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner FOI: https://www.oic.wa.gov.au/en-au/FTP014

You can also contact the FOI/Privacy department to ask why the request was refused, and to assess if there is anything further that you can do which may change the decision prior to an official appeal.