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Letter to the Editor: Privacy commissioner has say over fees

|Written By Ann Cavoukian

I am writing in response to the article “Lawyer slams costs for medical records” that appeared in the Jan. 9, 2012, edition of Law Times.

The Personal Health Information Protection Act, which I oversee, prohibits the health sector from charging a fee that exceeds the prescribed amount or the amount of reasonable cost recovery when disclosing personal health information.

As the government has not prescribed the amount of fees that the health sector may charge, in 2010, my office issued Order HO-009 after an individual made a complaint regarding the fee charged by her physician to access 34 pages of medical records.

My office found that the fee of $125 exceeded the amount of reasonable cost recovery. We reduced the fee to $33.50.

In arriving at that decision, my office reviewed a number of fee schemes and concluded that a proposed regulation under the act published in the Ontario Gazette in 2006 — a regulation that was not subsequently adopted — provided the best framework for determining reasonable cost recovery.

While Order HO-009 relates to the fees that may be charged to individuals accessing their own records of personal health information, it provides a framework that may also be applied to the fees charged in disclosing personal health information to other persons.

The provisions in the act related to the fees that may be charged for access are similar to the fees that may be charged when disclosing personal health information.

Both prohibit charging fees “that exceed the prescribed amount or the amount of reasonable cost recovery, if no amount is prescribed.”

A person who believes that the provisions in the act have been or are about to be contravened may file a complaint with my office.

Ann Cavoukian
Information and privacy commissioner,
Toronto
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