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Patient Records

Good dental recordkeeping is critical to the practice of dentistry. It ensures continuity of care for patients and
may help to reduce the likelihood of a complaint.

CDSBC often receives questions from both dentists and patients about ownership of and access to records. A simple discussion of access to records is provided below.

Note that complete requirements for dental recordkeeping and the ownership, transfer and retention of dental records can be found in CDSBC's Dental Recordkeeping Guidelines (PDF).

Do patients have a right to their dental records? Can a dentist ever withhold them? 

A patient owns all of the information contained in their patient chart and has the legal right to access a copy of their complete dental record. Dentists are obligated by law to provide copies of what the patient has requested, including radiographs, study models and photographs. A reasonable fee may be charged to cover the cost of duplicating the records and radiographs.

Dentists may not withhold a patient’s records even when the patient owes money for dental work. Fee disputes or other disagreements between the patient and dentist are not grounds to withhold access to, or transfer of, patient records.

Do dental offices have to provide the records to another dental office?

Dental Offices must also provide the patient records if another dental office requests them. It is acceptable to provide a complete copy of the records or send the originals to the new office with a request that the records be copied and returned. Specific requirements for retention of records are included in CDSBC’s Dental Recordkeeping Guidelines.

A reasonable fee may be charged to cover the cost of duplicating the records and radiographs.