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What are my rights as a patient?

As a patient or health care consumer in Ontario, you have both rights and responsibilities. If a health care professional violates your rights, you can make a complaint.

Your rights are protected by laws such as the Health Care Consent Act, the Long-Term Care Act and the Mental Health Act.

Your Rights

In general, as a patient, you have a right to:

  • Receive safe and proper care.
  • Give or refuse consent for any procedure, and for any reason.
  • Have a medical professional clearly explain health problems and treatments to you.
  • Participate in health care decisions.
  • Ask questions and express concerns.
  • Request a second opinion; within reason.
  • Be assured that personal information is confidential.
  • Request to access your health information records.
  • Request the transfer of your health records to another medical professional; you may be charged a fee.

These are just some of your rights. You can find more information about rights for specific kinds of patients in the links at the end of this article.

Make a Complaint

If a health care professional violates your rights, you can complain to the appropriate regulatory organization. For example, if your doctor refuses to give you your medical records, you can complain to the Information and Privacy Commissioner. If you believe your doctor acted unprofessionally, you can complain to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO).

Find information about the CPSO complaints process, including how long it takes to make a formal complaint.

A complaint can lead to an investigation of the professional's conduct. Sometimes the patient who complains can get financial compensation.

For More Information

  • Home Care Bill of Rights - This booklet explains your rights if you get home care, such as nursing, social work, home-making or other help in your home. From CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario).
  • What are Your Rights as a Psychiatric Patient? - This webpage has information about the rights of mental health patients. From the Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office.
  • Medical Records - The official policy that physicians must follow with regards to patients' health records. It states that physicians are obligated to show patients their medical records and transfer them to another health care professional if the patients request so. From the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
  • The Complaints Process - Explains how to make a complaint about a doctor and outlines the process that follows. From the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
  • Health Services in Your Community - A list of health-related organizations in Ontario. From the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
Last Updated: July 11, 2012
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