Patients' Right to See & Copy his Medical Records
under California Law
Patient's right to get records from any health care provider or HMO
Attorney's right to get client/patient's records from any health care provider or HMO
Patient's right to get records from any agency, eg: Dept. of Managed Health Care
Health & Safety Code §§123100-123149.5
Any patient or his representative is entitled to inspect his medical records
during business hours, within five working days after making
a written request, subject to payment of reasonable clerical costs.
He may bring any one person with him. (HSC 123110(a))
He is entitled to copies of his medical records, to be sent
within 15 days of the provider's receipt of a written request,
subject to copying costs of not over 25 cents per page plus
reasonable clerical costs. ((HSC 123110(b))
The provider may choose to send copies of x-rays and ekgs, eegs, or emgs to another
health professional rather than give them to the patient. 15 day limit still applies.
Providers may not withhold records because of unpaid bills. ((HSC 123110(g))
A health care provider may choose to prepare a summary of the record,
for inspection and copying by a patient within 10 working days from the date of the
patient's request, rather than allowing access to the entire record. (HSC 123130(a))
However, if more time is needed because the record is of extraordinary length
or because the patient was discharged from a facility within the last 10 days,
the health care provider shall notify the patient of this fact and deliver
the summary within 30 days.
Providers must save records for 7 years or till a minor reaches 19 years old,
whichever is longer. (HSC 123145(a))
Patients may submit a 250 word addendum of additions or corrections to the medical record, which must be kept and distributed with the record. ((HSC 123111(a))
Any individual health care provider who willfully
violates this chapter is guilty of unprofessional conduct. (HSC 123110(f))
Any institutional health care provider that willfully violates this
chapter is punishable by a fine of not more than $100.
Violation may also be grounds for suspension or revocation of the
provider's license or certificate.
If the HMO or doctor balks at providing the records, the first step would be to complain to the
California Medical Board, (800) 633-2322.
In addition the patient may bring an action against the health care provider
to enforce these obligations, including, in the discretion of the court,
an award of costs and reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party. (HSC 123120)
Health & Safety Code §§123100-123149.5
Text of Statute
123100. The Legislature finds and declares that every person having
ultimate responsibility for decisions respecting his or her own
health care also possesses a concomitant right of access to complete
information respecting his or her condition and care provided.
Similarly, persons having responsibility for decisions respecting the
health care of others should, in general, have access to information
on the patient's condition and care. It is, therefore, the intent
of the Legislature in enacting this chapter to establish procedures
for providing access to health care records or summaries of those
records by patients and by those persons having responsibility for
decisions respecting the health care of others.
123105. As used in this chapter:
- (a) "Health care provider" means any of the following:
- (1) A health facility licensed pursuant to Chapter 2 (commencing
with Section 1250) of Division 2.
- (2) A clinic licensed pursuant to Chapter 1 (commencing with
Section 1200) of Division 2.
- (3) A home health agency licensed pursuant to Chapter 8
(commencing with Section 1725) of Division 2.
- (4) A physician and surgeon licensed pursuant to Chapter 5
(commencing with Section 2000) of Division 2 of the Business and
Professions Code or pursuant to the Osteopathic Act.
- (5) A podiatrist licensed pursuant to Article 22 (commencing with
Section 2460) of Chapter 5 of Division 2 of the Business and
- (6) A dentist licensed pursuant to Chapter 4 (commencing with
Section 1600) of Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code.
- (7) A psychologist licensed pursuant to Chapter 6.6 (commencing
with Section 2900) of Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code.
- (8) An optometrist licensed pursuant to Chapter 7 (commencing with
Section 3000) of Division 2 of the Business and Professions Code.
- (9) A chiropractor licensed pursuant to the Chiropractic
- (10) A marriage, family, and child counselor licensed pursuant to
Chapter 13 (commencing with Section 4980) of Division 2 of the
Business and Professions Code.
- (11) A clinical social worker licensed pursuant to Chapter 14
(commencing with Section 4990) of Division 2 of the Business and
- (b) "Mental health records" means patient records, or discrete
portions thereof, specifically relating to evaluation or treatment of
a mental disorder. "Mental health records" includes, but is not
limited to, all alcohol and drug abuse records.
- (c) "Patient" means a patient or former patient of a health care
- (d) "Patient records" means records in any form or medium
maintained by, or in the custody or control of, a health care
provider relating to the health history, diagnosis, or condition of a
patient, or relating to treatment provided or proposed to be
provided to the patient. "Patient records" includes only records
pertaining to the patient requesting the records or whose
representative requests the records. "Patient records" does not
include information given in confidence to a health care provider by
a person other than another health care provider or the patient, and
that material may be removed from any records prior to inspection or
copying under Section 123110 or 123115. "Patient records" does not
include information contained in aggregate form, such as indices,
registers, or logs.
- (e) "Patient's representative" or "representative" means a parent
or the guardian of a minor who is a patient, or the guardian or
conservator of the person of an adult patient, or the beneficiary or
personal representative of a deceased patient.
- (f) "Alcohol and drug abuse records" means patient records, or
discrete portions thereof, specifically relating to evaluation and
treatment of alcoholism or drug abuse.
- (a) Notwithstanding Section 5328 of the Welfare and
Institutions Code, and except as provided in Sections 123115 and
any adult patient of a health care provider, any minor
patient authorized by law to consent to medical treatment, and any
patient representative shall be entitled to inspect patient records
upon presenting to the health care provider a written request for
those records and upon payment of reasonable clerical costs incurred
in locating and making the records available.
However, a patient who
is a minor shall be entitled to inspect patient records pertaining
only to health care of a type for which the minor is lawfully
authorized to consent.
A health care provider shall permit this
inspection during business hours within five working days after
receipt of the written request.
The inspection shall be conducted by
the patient or patient's representative requesting the inspection,
who may be accompanied by one other person of his or her choosing.
- (b) Additionally, any patient or patient's representative shall be
entitled to copies of all or any portion of the patient records that
he or she has a right to inspect, upon presenting a written request
to the health care provider specifying the records to be copied,
together with a fee to defray the cost of copying, that shall not
exceed twenty-five cents ($0.25) per page or fifty cents ($0.50) per
page for records that are copied from microfilm and any additional
reasonable clerical costs incurred in making the records available.
The health care provider shall ensure that the copies are transmitted
within 15 days after receiving the written request.
- (c) Copies of X-rays or tracings derived from electrocardiography,
electroencephalography, or electromyography need not be provided to
the patient or patient's representative under this section, if the
original X-rays or tracings are transmitted to another health care
provider upon written request of the patient or patient's
representative and within 15 days after receipt of the request.
request shall specify the name and address of the health care
provider to whom the records are to be delivered. All reasonable
costs, not exceeding actual costs, incurred by a health care provider
in providing copies pursuant to this subdivision may be charged to
the patient or representative requesting the copies.
- (d) This section shall not be construed to preclude a health care
provider from requiring reasonable verification of identity prior to
permitting inspection or copying of patient records, provided this
requirement is not used oppressively or discriminatorily to frustrate
or delay compliance with this section.
Nothing in this chapter
shall be deemed to supersede any rights that a patient or
representative might otherwise have or exercise under Section 1158 of
the Evidence Code or any other provision of law. Nothing in this
chapter shall require a health care provider to retain records longer
than required by applicable statutes or administrative regulations.
- (e) This chapter shall not be construed to render a health care
provider liable for the quality of his or her records or the copies
provided in excess of existing law and regulations with respect to
the quality of medical records. A health care provider shall not be
liable to the patient or any other person for any consequences that
result from disclosure of patient records as required by this
chapter. A health care provider shall not discriminate against
classes or categories of providers in the transmittal of X-rays or
other patient records, or copies of these X-rays or records, to other
providers as authorized by this section.
Every health care provider shall adopt policies and establish
procedures for the uniform transmittal of X-rays and other patient
records that effectively prevent the discrimination described in this
subdivision. A health care provider may establish reasonable
conditions, including a reasonable deposit fee, to ensure the return
of original X-rays transmitted to another health care provider,
provided the conditions do not discriminate on the basis of, or in a
manner related to, the license of the provider to which the X-rays
- (f) Any health care provider described in paragraphs (4) to (10),
inclusive, of subdivision (a) of Section 123105 who willfully
violates this chapter is guilty of unprofessional conduct.
Any health care provider described in paragraphs (1) to (3), inclusive,
of subdivision (a) of Section 123105 that willfully violates this
chapter is guilty of an infraction punishable by a fine of not more
than one hundred dollars ($100).
The state agency, board, or
commission that issued the health care provider's professional or
institutional license shall consider a violation as grounds for
disciplinary action with respect to the licensure, including
suspension or revocation of the license or certificate.
- (g) This section shall be construed as prohibiting a health care
provider from withholding patient records or summaries of patient
records because of an unpaid bill for health care services. Any
health care provider who willfully withholds patient records or
summaries of patient records because of an unpaid bill for health
care services shall be subject to the sanctions specified in
- (a) Any adult patient who inspects his or her patient
records pursuant to Section 123110 shall have the right to provide to
the health care provider a written addendum with respect to any item
or statement in his or her records that the patient believes to be
incomplete or incorrect. The addendum shall be limited to 250 words
per alleged incomplete or incorrect item in the patient's record and
shall clearly indicate in writing that the patient wishes the
addendum to be made a part of his or her record.
- (b) The health care provider shall attach the addendum to the
patient's records and shall include that addendum whenever the health
care provider makes a disclosure of the allegedly incomplete or
incorrect portion of the patient's records to any third party.
- (c) The receipt of information in a patient's addendum which
contains defamatory or otherwise unlawful language, and the inclusion
of this information in the patient's records, in accordance with
subdivision (b), shall not, in and of itself, subject the health care
provider to liability in any civil, criminal, administrative, or
- (d) Subdivision (f) of Section 123110 and Section 123120 shall be
applicable with respect to any violation of this section by a health
- (a) The representative of a minor shall not be entitled to
inspect or obtain copies of the minor's patient records in either of
the following circumstances:
- (1) With respect to which the minor has a right of inspection
under Section 123110.
- (2) Where the health care provider determines that access to the
patient records requested by the representative would have a
detrimental effect on the provider's professional relationship with
the minor patient or the minor's physical safety or psychological
well-being. The decision of the health care provider as to whether
or not a minor's records are available for inspection under this
section shall not attach any liability to the provider, unless the
decision is found to be in bad faith.
- (b) When a health care provider determines there is a substantial
risk of significant adverse or detrimental consequences to a patient
in seeing or receiving a copy of mental health records requested by
the patient, the provider may decline to permit inspection or provide
copies of the records to the patient, subject to the following
- (1) The health care provider shall make a written record, to be
included with the mental health records requested, noting the date of
the request and explaining the health care provider's reason for
refusing to permit inspection or provide copies of the records,
including a description of the specific adverse or detrimental
consequences to the patient that the provider anticipates would occur
if inspection or copying were permitted.
- (2) The health care provider shall permit inspection by, or
provide copies of the mental health records to, a licensed physician
and surgeon, licensed psychologist, licensed marriage, family, and
child counselor, or licensed clinical social worker designated by
request of the patient. The licensed physician and surgeon, licensed
psychologist, licensed marriage, family, and child counselor, or
licensed clinical social worker to whom the records are provided for
inspection or copying shall not permit inspection or copying by the
- (3) The health care provider shall inform the patient of the
provider's refusal to permit him or her to inspect or obtain copies
of the requested records, and inform the patient of the right to
require the provider to permit inspection by, or provide copies to, a
licensed physician and surgeon, licensed psychologist, licensed
marriage, family, and child counselor, or licensed clinical social
worker designated by written authorization of the patient.
- (4) The health care provider shall indicate in the mental health
records of the patient whether the request was made under paragraph
Any patient or representative aggrieved by a violation of
Section 123110 may, in addition to any other remedy provided by law,
bring an action against the health care provider to enforce the
obligations prescribed by Section 123110.
Any judgment rendered in
the action may, in the discretion of the court, include an award of
costs and reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party.
- (a) This chapter shall not require a health care provider
to permit inspection or provide copies of alcohol and drug abuse
records where, or in a manner, prohibited by Section 408 of the
federal Drug Abuse Office and Treatment Act of 1972 (Public Law
92-255) or Section 333 of the federal Comprehensive Alcohol Abuse and
Alcoholism Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation Act of 1970
(Public Law 91-616), or by regulations adopted pursuant to these
federal laws. Alcohol and drug abuse records subject to these
federal laws shall also be subject to this chapter, to the extent
that these federal laws do not prohibit disclosure of the records.
All other alcohol and drug abuse records shall be fully subject to
- (b) This chapter shall not require a health care provider to
permit inspection or provide copies of records or portions of records
where or in a manner prohibited by existing law respecting the
confidentiality of information regarding communicable disease
- (a) A health care provider may prepare a summary of the
record, according to the requirements of this section, for inspection
and copying by a patient.
If the health care provider chooses to
prepare a summary of the record rather than allowing access to the
entire record, he or she shall make the summary of the record
available to the patient within 10 working days from the date of the
However, if more time is needed because the
record is of extraordinary length or because the patient was
discharged from a licensed health facility within the last 10 days,
the health care provider shall notify the patient of this fact and
the date that the summary will be completed, but in no case shall
more than 30 days elapse between the request by the patient and the
delivery of the summary.
In preparing the summary of the record the
health care provider shall not be obligated to include information
that is not contained in the original record.
- (b) A health care provider may confer with the patient in an
attempt to clarify the patient's purpose and goal in obtaining his or
her record. If as a consequence the patient requests information
about only certain injuries, illnesses, or episodes, this subdivision
shall not require the provider to prepare the summary required by
this subdivision for other than the injuries, illnesses, or episodes
so requested by the patient. The summary shall contain for each
injury, illness, or episode any information included in the record
relative to the following:
- (1) Chief complaint or complaints including pertinent history.
- (2) Findings from consultations and referrals to other health care
- (3) Diagnosis, where determined.
- (4) Treatment plan and regimen including medications prescribed.
- (5) Progress of the treatment.
- (6) Prognosis including significant continuing problems or
- (7) Pertinent reports of diagnostic procedures and tests and all
- (8) Objective findings from the most recent physical examination,
such as blood pressure, weight, and actual values from routine
- (c) This section shall not be construed to require any medical
records to be written or maintained in any manner not otherwise
required by law.
- (d) The summary shall contain a list of all current medications
prescribed, including dosage, and any sensitivities or allergies to
medications recorded by the provider.
- (e) Subdivision (c) of Section 123110 shall be applicable whether
or not the health care provider elects to prepare a summary of the
- (f) The health care provider may charge no more than a reasonable
fee based on actual time and cost for the preparation of the summary.
The cost shall be based on a computation of the actual time spent
preparing the summary for availability to the patient or the patient'
s representative. It is the intent of the Legislature that summaries
of the records be made available at the lowest possible cost to the
123135. Except as otherwise provided by law, nothing in this
chapter shall be construed to grant greater access to individual
patient records by any person, firm, association, organization,
partnership, business trust, company, corporation, or municipal or
other public corporation, or government officer or agency.
Therefore, this chapter does not do any of the following:
- (a) Relieve employers of the requirements of the Confidentiality
of Medical Information Act (Part 2.6 (commencing with Section 56) of
Division 1 of the Civil Code).
- (b) Relieve any person subject to the Insurance Information and
Privacy Protection Act (Article 6.6 (commencing with Section 791) of
Chapter 1 of Part 2 of Division 1 of the Insurance Code) from the
requirements of that act.
- (c) Relieve government agencies of the requirements of the
Information Practices Act of 1977 (Title 1.8 (commencing with Section
1798) of Part 4 of Division 3 of the Civil Code).
123140. The Information Practices Act of 1977 (Title 1.8
(commencing with Section 1798) of Part 4 of Division 3 of the Civil
Code) shall prevail over this chapter with respect to records
maintained by a state agency.
- (a) Providers of health services that are licensed pursuant
to Sections 1205, 1253, 1575 and 1726 have an obligation, if the
licensee ceases operation, to preserve records for a minimum of seven
years following discharge of the patient, except that the records of
unemancipated minors shall be kept at least one year after the minor
has reached the age of 18 years, and in any case, not less than
- (b) The department or any person injured as a result of the
licensee's abandonment of health records may bring an action in a
proper court for the amount of damage suffered as a result thereof.
In the event that the licensee is a corporation or partnership that
is dissolved, the person injured may take action against that
corporation's or partnership's principle officers of record at the
time of dissolution.
- (c) Abandoned means violating subdivision (a) and leaving patients
treated by the licensee without access to medical information to
which they are entitled pursuant to Section 123110.
123148. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a health care
professional at whose request a test is performed shall, upon a
written or oral request of a patient who is the subject of a clinical
laboratory test, provide the patient with the results of the test in
plain language conveyed in the manner deemed most appropriate by the
health care professional who requested the test. The test results
to be reported to the patient pursuant to this section shall be
recorded in the patient's medical record and shall be reported to the
patient within a reasonable time period after the test results are
received at the offices of the health care professional who requested
- (a) Providers of health services, licensed pursuant to
Sections 1205, 1253, 1575, and 1726, that utilize electronic
recordkeeping systems only, shall comply with the additional
requirements of this section. These additional requirements do not
apply to patient records if hard copy versions of the patient records
- (b) Any use of electronic recordkeeping to store patient records
shall ensure the safety and integrity of those records at least to
the extent of hard copy records. All providers set forth in
subdivision (a) shall ensure the safety and integrity of all
electronic media used to store patient records by employing an
offsite backup storage system, an image mechanism that is able to
copy signature documents, and a mechanism to ensure that once a
record is input, it is unalterable.
- (c) Original hard copies of patient records may be destroyed once
the record has been electronically stored.
- (d) The printout of the computerized version shall be considered
the original as defined in Section 255 of the Evidence Code for
purposes of providing copies to patients, the Division of Licensing
and Certification, and for introduction into evidence in accordance
with Sections 1550 and 1551 of the Evidence Code, in administrative
or court proceedings.
- (e) Access to electronically stored patient records shall be made
available to the Division of Licensing and Certification staff
promptly, upon request.
- (f) This section does not exempt licensed clinics, health
facilities, adult day health care centers, and home health agencies
from the requirement of maintaining original copies of patient
records that cannot be electronically stored.
- (g) Any health care provider subject to this section, choosing to
utilize an electronic recordkeeping system, shall develop and
implement policies and procedures to include safeguards for
confidentiality and unauthorized access to electronically stored
patient health records, authentication by electronic signature keys,
and systems maintenance.
- (h) Nothing contained in this chapter shall affect the existing
regulatory requirements for the access, use, disclosure,
confidentiality, retention of record contents, and maintenance of
health information in patient records by health care providers.
- (i) This chapter does not prohibit any provider of health care
services from maintaining or retaining patient records
- (a) It is the intent of the Legislature that all medical
information transmitted during the delivery of health care via
telemedicine, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 2290.5 of the
Business and Professions Code, become part of the patient's medical
record maintained by the licensed health care provider.
- (b) This section shall not be construed to limit or waive any of
the requirements of Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 123100) of
Part 1 of Division 106 of the Health and Safety Code.
Evidence Code §1158
If an attorney or his agent presents the signed record release authorization to the provider,
even if no suit has been filed, the provider must make the records available within 5 days,
or be liable for expenses and legal costs to enforce this section.
If the attorney hires a professional photocopier (per BPC §22451), or uses an agent (per BPC §22451(b)),
the provider must let HIM do the copying.
There doesn't appear to be any prohibition on the attorney's agent being the patient!
The patient must pay reasonable costs including:
- ten cents per page for documents 81/2 by 14 inches or less;
- twenty cents per page for copying of documents from microfilm;
- actual costs for oversize documents or special processing
- reasonable clerical costs to get the records, not over a rate of four dollars ($4) per
quarter hour or fraction thereof;
- actual postage charges; and
- actual costs, if any, charged to the provider by a 3d person holding the records.
If the records are delivered to the attorney at the record custodian's place of business,
the fee shall not exceed fifteen dollars ($15), plus actual costs, if any, of 3d party retrieval.
If the provider fails to comply with this section,
CCP §1985.7 says that the patient's attorney
can file an "Order to Show Cause"
which the provider must answer within 20 days
(or sooner if the judge is convinced the matter is urgent).
The provider will have to pay the attorney's fees and costs for filing the order.
See THORNBURG v. EL CENTRO REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, 143 Cal.App.4th 198, D047004, September 22, 2006
Evidence Code §1158
Text of Statute
1158. Whenever, prior to the filing of any action or the appearance
of a defendant in an action, an attorney at law or his or her
representative presents a written authorization therefor signed by an
adult patient, by the guardian or conservator of his or her person
or estate, or, in the case of a minor, by a parent or guardian of the
minor, or by the personal representative or an heir of a deceased
patient, or a copy thereof, a physician and surgeon, dentist,
registered nurse, dispensing optician, registered physical therapist,
podiatrist, licensed psychologist, osteopathic physician and
surgeon, chiropractor, clinical laboratory bioanalyst, clinical
laboratory technologist, or pharmacist or pharmacy, duly licensed as
such under the laws of the state, or a licensed hospital, shall make
all of the patient's records under his, hers or its custody or
control available for inspection and copying by the attorney at law
or his, or her, representative, promptly upon the presentation of the
No copying may be performed by any medical provider or employer
enumerated above, or by an agent thereof, when the requesting
attorney has employed a professional photocopier or anyone identified
in Section 22451 of the Business and Professions Code as his or her
representative to obtain or review the records on his or her behalf.
The presentation of the authorization by the agent on behalf of the
attorney shall be sufficient proof that the agent is the attorney's
Failure to make the records available, during business hours,
within five days after the presentation of the written authorization,
may subject the person or entity having custody or control of the
records to liability for all reasonable expenses, including attorney'
s fees, incurred in any proceeding to enforce this section.
All reasonable costs incurred by any person or entity enumerated
above in making patient records available pursuant to this section
may be charged against the person whose written authorization
required the availability of the records.
"Reasonable cost," as used in this section, shall include, but not
be limited to, the following specific costs: ten cents ($0.10) per
page for standard reproduction of documents of a size 81/2 by 14
inches or less; twenty cents ($0.20) per page for copying of
documents from microfilm; actual costs for the reproduction of
oversize documents or the reproduction of documents requiring special
processing which are made in response to an authorization;
reasonable clerical costs incurred in locating and making the records
available to be billed at the maximum rate of sixteen dollars ($16)
per hour per person, computed on the basis of four dollars ($4) per
quarter hour or fraction thereof; actual postage charges; and actual
costs, if any, charged to the witness by a third person for the
retrieval and return of records held by that third person.
Where the records are delivered to the attorney or the attorney's
representative for inspection or photocopying at the record custodian'
s place of business, the only fee for complying with the
authorization shall not exceed fifteen dollars ($15), plus actual
costs, if any, charged to the record custodian by a third person for
retrieval and return of records held offsite by the third person.
Code of Civil Procedure §1985.7
Text of Statute
1985.7. When a medical provider fails to comply with Section 1158 of the Evidence Code,
in addition to any other available remedy, the demanding party may apply to the court for an order to show cause
why the records should not be produced.
Any order to show cause issued pursuant to this section shall be served upon respondent in the same manner
as a summons.
It shall be returnable no sooner than 20 days after issuance unless ordered otherwise upon a showing of
The court shall impose monetary sanctions pursuant to Section 1158 of the Evidence Code unless it finds that
the person subject to the sanction acted with substantial justification or that other circumstances make the imposition
of the sanction unjust.
Civil Code §§1798.30 - 1798.55
Text of Statute
1798.30. Each agency shall either adopt regulations or publish
guidelines specifying procedures to be followed in order fully to
implement each of the rights of individuals set forth in this
1798.32. Each individual shall have the right to inquire and be
notified as to whether the agency maintains a record about himself or
herself. Agencies shall take reasonable steps to assist individuals
in making their requests sufficiently specific.
Any notice sent to an individual which in any way indicates that
the agency maintains any record concerning that individual shall
include the title and business address of the agency official
responsible for maintaining the records, the procedures to be
followed to gain access to the records, and the procedures to be
followed for an individual to contest the contents of these records
unless the individual has received this notice from the agency during
the past year.
In implementing the right conferred by this section, an agency may
specify in its rules or regulations reasonable times, places, and
requirements for identifying an individual who requests access to a
record, and for disclosing the contents of a record.
1798.33. Each agency may establish fees to be charged, if any, to
an individual for making copies of a record. Such fees shall exclude
the cost of any search for and review of the record, and shall not
exceed ten cents ($0.10) per page, unless the agency fee for copying
is established by statute.
- (a) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, each
agency shall permit any individual upon request and proper
identification to inspect all the personal information in any record
containing personal information and maintained by reference to an
identifying particular assigned to the individual within 30 days of
the agency's receipt of the request for active records, and within 60
days of the agency's receipt of the request for records that are
geographically dispersed or which are inactive and in central
storage. Failure to respond within these time limits shall be deemed
denial. In addition, the individual shall be permitted to inspect
any personal information about himself or herself where it is
maintained by reference to an identifying particular other than that
of the individual, if the agency knows or should know that the
information exists. The individual also shall be permitted to
inspect the accounting made pursuant to Article 7 (commencing with
- (b) The agency shall permit the individual, and, upon the
individual's request, another person of the individual's own choosing
to inspect all the personal information in the record and have an
exact copy made of all or any portion thereof within 15 days of the
inspection. It may require the individual to furnish a written
statement authorizing disclosure of the individual's record to
another person of the individual's choosing.
- (c) The agency shall present the information in the record in a
form reasonably comprehensible to the general public.
- (d) Whenever an agency is unable to access a record by reference
to name only, or when access by name only would impose an
unreasonable administrative burden, it may require the individual to
submit such other identifying information as will facilitate access
to the record.
- (e) When an individual is entitled under this chapter to gain
access to the information in a record containing personal
information, the information or a true copy thereof shall be made
available to the individual at a location near the residence of the
individual or by mail, whenever reasonable.
1798.35. Each agency shall permit an individual to request in
writing an amendment of a record and, shall within 30 days of the
date of receipt of such request:
- (a) Make each correction in accordance with the individual's
request of any portion of a record which the individual believes is
not accurate, relevant, timely, or complete and inform the individual
of the corrections made in accordance with their request; or
- (b) Inform the individual of its refusal to amend the record in
accordance with such individual's request, the reason for the
refusal, the procedures established by the agency for the individual
to request a review by the head of the agency or an official
specifically designated by the head of the agency of the refusal to
amend, and the name, title, and business address of the reviewing
1798.36. Each agency shall permit any individual who disagrees with
the refusal of the agency to amend a record to request a review of
such refusal by the head of the agency or an official specifically
designated by the head of such agency, and, not later than 30 days
from the date on which the individual requests such review, complete
such review and make a final determination unless, for good cause
shown, the head of the agency extends such review period by 30 days.
If, after such review, the reviewing official refuses to amend the
record in accordance with the request, the agency shall permit the
individual to file with the agency a statement of reasonable length
setting forth the reasons for the individual's disagreement.
1798.37. The agency, with respect to any disclosure containing
information about which the individual has filed a statement of
disagreement, shall clearly note any portion of the record which is
disputed and make available copies of such individual's statement and
copies of a concise statement of the reasons of the agency for not
making the amendment to any person or agency to whom the disputed
record has been or is disclosed.
1798.38. If information, including letters of recommendation,
compiled for the purpose of determining suitability, eligibility, or
qualifications for employment, advancement, renewal of appointment or
promotion, status as adoptive parents, or for the receipt of state
contracts, or for licensing purposes, was received with the promise
or, prior to July 1, 1978, with the understanding that the identity
of the source of the information would be held in confidence and the
source is not in a supervisory position with respect to the
individual to whom the record pertains, the agency shall fully inform
the individual of all personal information about that individual
without identification of the source. This may be done by providing
a copy of the text of the material with only such deletions as are
necessary to protect the identity of the source or by providing a
comprehensive summary of the substance of the material. Whichever
method is used, the agency shall insure that full disclosure is made
to the subject of any personal information that could reasonably in
any way reflect or convey anything detrimental, disparaging, or
threatening to an individual's reputation, rights, benefits,
privileges, or qualifications, or be used by an agency to make a
determination that would affect an individual's rights, benefits,
privileges, or qualifications. In institutions of higher education,
"supervisory positions" shall not be deemed to include chairpersons
of academic departments.
1798.39. Sections 1798.35, 1798.36, and 1798.37 shall not apply to
any record evidencing property rights.
1798.40. This chapter shall not be construed to require an agency
to disclose personal information to the individual to whom the
information pertains, if the information meets any of the following
This section shall not be construed to deny an individual access
to information relating to him or her if access is allowed by another
statute or decisional law of this state.
- (a) Is compiled for the purpose of identifying individual criminal
offenders and alleged offenders and consists only of identifying
data and notations of arrests, the nature and disposition of criminal
charges, sentencing, confinement, release, and parole and probation
- (b) Is compiled for the purpose of a criminal investigation of
suspected criminal activities, including reports of informants and
investigators, and associated with an identifiable individual.
- (c) Is contained in any record which could identify an individual
and which is compiled at any stage of the process of enforcement of
the criminal laws, from the arrest or indictment stage through
release from supervision and including the process of extradition or
the exercise of executive clemency.
- (d) Is maintained for the purpose of an investigation of an
individual's fitness for licensure or public employment, or of a
grievance or complaint, or a suspected civil offense, so long as the
information is withheld only so as not to compromise the
investigation, or a related investigation. The identities of
individuals who provided information for the investigation may be
withheld pursuant to Section 1798.38.
- (e) Would compromise the objectivity or fairness of a competitive
examination for appointment or promotion in public service, or to
determine fitness for licensure, or to determine scholastic aptitude.
- (f) Pertains to the physical or psychological condition of the
individual, if the agency determines that disclosure would be
detrimental to the individual. The information shall, upon the
individual's written authorization, be disclosed to a licensed
medical practitioner or psychologist designated by the individual.
- (g)Relates to the settlement of claims for work related illnesses
or injuries and is maintained exclusively by the State Compensation
- (h) Is required by statute to be withheld from the individual to
whom it pertains.
- (a) Except as provided in subdivision (c), if the agency
determines that information requested pursuant to Section 1798.34 is
exempt from access, it shall inform the individual in writing of the
agency's finding that disclosure is not required by law.
- (b) Except as provided in subdivision (c), each agency shall
conduct a review of its determination that particular information is
exempt from access pursuant to Section 1798.40, within 30 days from
the receipt of a request by an individual directly affected by the
determination, and inform the individual in writing of the findings
of the review. The review shall be conducted by the head of the
agency or an official specifically designated by the head of the
- (c) If the agency believes that compliance with subdivision (a)
would seriously interfere with attempts to apprehend persons who are
wanted for committing a crime or attempts to prevent the commission
of a crime or would endanger the life of an informant or other person
submitting information contained in the record, it may petition the
presiding judge of the superior court of the county in which the
record is maintained to issue an ex parte order authorizing the
agency to respond to the individual that no record is maintained.
All proceedings before the court shall be in camera. If the
presiding judge finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe
that compliance with subdivision (a) will seriously interfere with
attempts to apprehend persons who are wanted for committing a crime
or attempts to prevent the commission of a crime or will endanger the
life of an informant or other person submitting information
contained in the record, the judge shall issue an order authorizing
the agency to respond to the individual that no record is maintained
by the agency. The order shall not be issued for longer than 30 days
but can be renewed at 30-day intervals. If a request pursuant to
this section is received after the expiration of the order, the
agency must either respond pursuant to subdivision (a) or seek a new
order pursuant to this subdivision.
1798.42. In disclosing information contained in a record to an
individual, an agency shall not disclose any personal information
relating to another individual which may be contained in the record.
To comply with this section, an agency shall, in disclosing
information, delete from disclosure such information as may be
necessary. This section shall not be construed to authorize
withholding the identities of sources except as provided in Sections
1798.38 and 1798.40.
1798.43. In disclosing information contained in a record to an
individual, an agency need not disclose any information pertaining to
that individual which is exempt under Section 1798.40. To comply
with this section, an agency may, in disclosing personal information
contained in a record, delete from the disclosure any exempt
1798.44. This article applies to the rights of an individual to
whom personal information pertains and not to the authority or right
of any other person, agency, other state governmental entity, or
governmental entity to obtain this information.
1798.45. An individual may bring a civil action against an agency
whenever such agency does any of the following:
- (a) Refuses to comply with an individual's lawful request to
inspect pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 1798.34.
- (b) Fails to maintain any record concerning any individual with
such accuracy, relevancy, timeliness, and completeness as is
necessary to assure fairness in any determination relating to the
qualifications, character, rights, opportunities of, or benefits to
the individual that may be made on the basis of such record, if, as a
proximate result of such failure, a determination is made which is
adverse to the individual.
- (c) Fails to comply with any other provision of this chapter, or
any rule promulgated thereunder, in such a way as to have an adverse
effect on an individual.
1798.46. In any suit brought under the provisions of subdivision
(a) of Section 1798.45:
- (a) The court may enjoin the agency from withholding the records
and order the production to the complainant of any agency records
improperly withheld from the complainant. In such a suit the court
shall determine the matter de novo, and may examine the contents of
any agency records in camera to determine whether the records or any
portion thereof may be withheld as being exempt from the individual's
right of access and the burden is on the agency to sustain its
- (b) The court shall assess against the agency reasonable attorney's
fees and other litigation costs reasonably incurred in any suit
under this section in which the complainant has prevailed. A party
may be considered to have prevailed even though he or she does not
prevail on all issues or against all parties.
1798.47. Any agency that fails to comply with any provision of this
chapter may be enjoined by any court of competent jurisdiction. The
court may make any order or judgment as may be necessary to prevent
the use or employment by an agency of any practices which violate
Actions for injunction under this section may be prosecuted by the
Attorney General, or any district attorney in this state, in the
name of the people of the State of California whether upon his or her
own complaint, or of a member of the general public, or by any
individual acting in his or her own behalf.
1798.48. In any suit brought under the provisions of subdivision
(b) or (c) of Section 1798.45, the agency shall be liable to the
individual in an amount equal to the sum of:
- (a) Actual damages sustained by the individual, including damages
for mental suffering.
- (b) The costs of the action together with reasonable attorney's
fees as determined by the court.
1798.49. An action to enforce any liability created under Sections
1798.45 to 1798.48, inclusive, may be brought in any court of
competent jurisdiction in the county in which the complainant
resides, or has his principal place of business, or in which the
defendant's records are situated, within two years from the date on
which the cause of action arises, except that where a defendant has
materially and willfully misrepresented any information required
under this section to be disclosed to an individual who is the
subject of the information and the information so misrepresented is
material to the establishment of the defendant's liability to that
individual under this section, the action may be brought at any time
within two years after discovery by the complainant of the
misrepresentation. Nothing in Sections 1798.45 to 1798.48,
inclusive, shall be construed to authorize any civil action by reason
of any injury sustained as the result of any information practice
covered by this chapter prior to July 1, 1978.
The rights and remedies set forth in this chapter shall be deemed
to be nonexclusive and are in addition to all those rights and
remedies which are otherwise available under any other provision of
1798.50. A civil action shall not lie under this article based upon
an allegation that an opinion which is subjective in nature, as
distinguished from a factual assertion, about an individual's
qualifications, in connection with a personnel action concerning such
an individual, was not accurate, relevant, timely, or complete.
1798.51. Where a remedy other than those provided in Articles 8 and
9 is provided by law but is not available because of lapse of time
an individual may obtain a correction to a record under this chapter
but such correction shall not operate to revise or restore a right or
remedy not provided by this chapter that has been barred because of
lapse of time.
1798.53. Any person, other than an employee of the state or of a
local government agency acting solely in his or her official
capacity, who intentionally discloses information, not otherwise
public, which they know or should reasonably know was obtained from
personal information maintained by a state agency or from "records"
within a "system of records" (as these terms are defined in the
Federal Privacy Act of 1974 (P. L. 93-579; 5 U.S.C. 552a)) maintained
by a federal government agency, shall be subject to a civil action,
for invasion of privacy, by the individual to whom the information
In any successful action brought under this section, the
complainant, in addition to any special or general damages awarded,
shall be awarded a minimum of two thousand five hundred dollars
($2,500) in exemplary damages as well as attorney's fees and other
litigation costs reasonably incurred in the suit.
The right, remedy, and cause of action set forth in this section
shall be nonexclusive and is in addition to all other rights,
remedies, and causes of action for invasion of privacy, inherent in
Section 1 of Article I of the California Constitution.
1798.55. The intentional violation of any provision of this chapter
or of any rules or regulations adopted thereunder, by an officer or
employee of any agency shall constitute a cause for discipline,
including termination of employment.
1798.56. Any person who willfully requests or obtains any record
containing personal information from an agency under false pretenses
shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not more than five
thousand dollars ($5,000), or imprisoned not more than one year, or
1798.57. Except for disclosures which are otherwise required or
permitted by law, the intentional disclosure of medical, psychiatric,
or psychological information in violation of the disclosure
provisions of this chapter is punishable as a misdemeanor if the
wrongful disclosure results in economic loss or personal injury to
the individual to whom the information pertains.
Civil Code §§1798.30 - 1798.55
"Information Practices Act"
Everyone has the right to ask an agency whether it has records
relating to him, and the agency has to help him make a proper request.
The agency can't charge more than ten cents ($0.10) per page
for copying the files.
The agency has to allow the person or another person of his choice
(specified in writing) to inspect all active files relating to him
within 30 days of receipt of a request, or 60 days for stored or dispersed records. If they miss
the time limit, it shall be treated as a denial of access.
They have to mail copies of the files within 15 days of the
inspection, in a reasonably comprehensible format.
If the person finds errors in the records, he may request
in writing that they be corrected, and within 30 days the agency must
either make the correction and tell the person, or give reasons for refusing to do so, and
tell the person how to appeal. That appeal has to be decided in 30 days. If they still
refuse, they must let the person file a statement to be placed in his record.
If some of the informants were promised anonymity, their names
may be withheld.
The agency doesn't have to disclose information on criminal matters, or
if they determine that disclosure would be
detrimental to the individual, but in that case it must be disclosed to a licensed
medical practitioner or psychologist designated by the person.
The person may bring a civil action against the agency
if it fails or refuses to comply with record requests, or maintains
false records which result in an adverse effect on the person.
In any such suit he may seek an injunction to require release
of the records, plus actual damages including mental suffering,
plus attorney's fees and costs of suit plus a minimum $2500 punitive damages.
The court may also issue an injunction against agency practices
which violate this chapter, and such a suit may be brought by any member of the public.
Suits may be brought in the county where the complainant lives or works,
within 2 years from the date of the discovery of agency's violation.
The intentional violation of this chapter
by an officer or employee of any agency shall constitute a cause for discipline,
including termination of employment.
For requests from the Department of Managed Health Care, a form is posted at