What is the average length of time that hospitals keep medical records? How long does your medical information stay in a hospital’s database?
The simple answer is that it is most likely five to ten years after a patient has received their last therapy, discharged, or died.
However, rules differ from state to state, and the minimum period of time records must be kept varies.
Medical records are subject to different laws depending on whether they are kept by private-practice doctors or hospitals. Medical records are kept for different amounts of time depending on whether the patient is an adult or a youngster.
A provider must store and retain each record for a minimum of seven years from the date of final service to the patient, according to federal law. It can last up to ten years for Medicare Advantage patients.
Providers must also comply with individual state regulations on hipaa record retention (which often differ from the national standards) and their states’ statutes of limitations on malpractice lawsuits.
The idea that records, either in paper or electronic form, should be saved for around ten years to comply with all requirements is an oft-touted rule of thumb. But, of course, there are exceptions.
Taking care of minors? Keep their records for at least two years, if not longer, after they attain the age of majority (usually twenty in most states). In South Carolina, a minor’s records must be kept for at least thirteen years.
Do you have any records of workplace injuries? Keep records from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for 30 years after the last date of service.
Do you have any experience with veterans? Prepare to keep their charts for a long time – at least 75 years. Keep records indefinitely if a patient was not mentally competent at the time of treatment.
Finally, if you learn that a patient is facing legal action, save all of his pertinent records, even if you’ve already preserved them over their other retention deadlines. No destruction is allowed once you have knowledge of the litigation.