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How Long Should You Keep a Patient's Medical Records?

Medical records serve a lot of purposes. They are essential for the continued care of patients, and you can also use them to defend a complaint or clinical negligence claim. Records can also be required by the medical billing company if there is any dispute. However, even if they are important, it is impossible to keep medical records forever. In this article, we look at how long you must keep a patient's medical records.

Are There Any Regulations Concerning Record Retention?

All health care providers are mandated by federal law to keep medical records for a minimum of seven years. This figure could go up to ten years for Medicare Advantage patients. Apart from the recommendations made by federal law, health care providers must also comply with state regulations pertaining to the retention of records. This sometimes differs from the national standards.

Records for Minors

There are also different regulations in place when it comes to dealing with minors. Generally, records for minors must be kept for not less than two years after they reach majority age which is pegged at twenty in many states. In South Carolina, health care providers are supposed to keep the records of a minor for more than thirteen years.

Workplace Injury Records

You will also find that there are different rules when dealing with records related to workplace injuries. If the case involves the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, you must hold on to your medical records for no less than 30 years following the last date of service.

Records for Veterans

When treating veterans, you must be aware that you need to keep their medical records for 75 years. Also, if the veteran was not mentally competent during their treatment, you should hang on to their records indefinitely.

Keeping of Records Where Legal Action is Involved

If you are dealing with a patient who is facing legal action or taking legal action against a practice or medical billing company, you must be sure to save their relevant records. It is advisable to hang on to these records even if they are past their retention dates. Once you are aware of the litigation, you must never discard these records.

The Cooperative of American Physicians (CAP) Recommendations

CAP recommends that health care providers keep records for at least ten years from the last date a patient was seen. This is because investigations of billing fraud involving Medicare and any other medical billing company may require records dating back ten years. The MMCP also recommends that health care providers hang on to a patient's medical records for ten years.

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