6. Right of Access to Case File

Patients are entitled to inspect their patient record and obtain an explanation of its content. You are entitled to receive the documents free of charge and forward them to a healthcare professional of your choice. 

The practical situation

Patients’ right to consult their case file applies to all components of the file (in paper or electronic form), including objective comments by the healthcare professional (diagnosis, course of disease etc.) and details of treatment (medication given, results of examinations and X-ray findings, expert opinions, surgery or hospital reports, medical certificates etc.).

The right to consult does not apply to information that concerns other people and is subject to professional secrecy or to personal notes made by the healthcare professional.

If access to the patient’s case file could have serious consequences for the patient, healthcare professionals can ask for the file to be consulted in their presence or in the presence of another healthcare professional designated by the patient.

What happens to my medical file if I want to change to another healthcare professional?

You can ask for your file to be given to you personally or sent to the new healthcare professional of your choice. If the healthcare professional does not comply with your request, or does not comply in full, you can contact the competent authority in your canton.

What does “personal notes” made by the healthcare professional mean?

Many notes and comments are made by hand, which naturally doesn’t mean that they are “personal notes”. Handwritten notes are usually part of the patient’s file too and can be consulted.
There are ultimately only a few documents that can be considered “personal notes”; one example is notes made by a person supervising a junior doctor which serve solely to analyse the doctor’s behaviour towards patients.

For how long can I have access to my medical file?

Healthcare professionals must keep your file for at least ten years after the last consultation. If they are no longer working or cannot be contacted, ask their successor or the public health office in your canton.

What happens to my medical file after I die?

Your patient file will still be protected by professional secrecy after you have died. However, your relatives or third parties can gain access to certain appropriate items of information after the healthcare professional has applied to the competent authority for release from professional secrecy obligation (for example, to assist grieving relatives, for genetic counselling or as part of court proceedings).

We cannot offer personal advice. Please refer to the page Options of Counselling and contact the appropriate office. Many thanks.

Last modification 08.07.2020

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Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
Healthcare and Related Professions Division
Health Equity Section
Schwarzenburgstrasse 157
3003 Bern

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