The Information Commissioner Emily O'Reilly has said there has been a significant increase in requests for medical records in the past year, with the aim of improving applications for welfare.
In total, there was a 38% rise in information requests in the past year - with requests to the HSE accounting for 30% of all applications.
Information Commissioner Emily O'Reilly said the rise is down to people looking for medical details or to prove they are suffering from a particular medical condition.
Ms O'Reilly said the financial crisis is forcing more people to go in search of their records.
She said: "Sometimes if you are trying to get a medical card, or if you are trying to prove that you have a particular medical condiotion, or if you are trying to prove a requirement that is needed to access whatever social protection benefit, sometimes you may have to get records which you can access under the Freedom of Information Act.
"I think that is probably a recession-lead phenomenon."