Hayley Rosenman


This Note addresses the issue of a patient's right to access her own medical records in the United States and Australia. Part I discusses the background of a right of patient access to medical records through case law in the United States. Part I gives a historical perspective on US and Australian legislation regarding access to medical records. Part II reviews commentary both for and against access in the United States and in Australia. Part II focuses on legal arguments from the recent decision concerning patient access to medical records by the Australian courts in Breen v. Williams. Further, Part II also briefly examines jurisprudence with respect to access rights in Canada and the United Kingdom. Part III argues that the United States and Australia should follow the international trend and grant access to medical records through legislation. Finally, this Note concludes that a right of access would not only be fairer to patients and improve the physician-patient relationship, but also would facilitate transnational legal actions where medical records are required but the countries' laws differ on the right of access. Australia and the United States, either on the federal level or uniformly on the state level, should adopt legislation providing for a right of patient access to medical records.