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Maintaining charts after retirement required?

            February 17, 2015

Question: 

Jennifer,

After having been in solo practice for many years, I am retiring.  Do I have to keep six years of my charts in storage somewhere? I have had a huge practice- probably well over 10,000 charts for the last 6 years. Many of those patients I just saw once in consultation, so I don't want to send a letter to everyone- many would have different addresses anyway.  For the patients I see regularly, I will recommend another doctor and send records.  Can I post something on my website that I retired, recommend other doctors, and offer to provide records? Can I leave that on a phone message?
 Do I have to continue to send records to insurance companies if they ask for them?

Thanks, 
Dr. F

Answer:
 
Unfortunately the obligation to maintain the records continues.  An applicable opinion from the AMA may be found by clicking here.  

Your best option is to find a physician willing to take over custodianship of your records – possibly a local colleague in the same or similar specialty.  Oftentimes colleagues will pay for the right to be a custodian because along with the transfer the transferring physician will also send a letter recommending the new holder of the records.  You may want to consider this option if you believe you have an interested party. 

If not, and you do not care to deal with transfer, you would have to maintain and be responsive to legitimate requests.  You would not be required to maintain the original paper chart – you could maintain in electronic form only, however, there are also benefits to maintaining an original paper chart, if any.  

And, yes, you can post on your site and give audio notice to patients by message you are retiring; this notice should give instructions on where their charts are available.  

Hope this helps.  Contact me to discuss in greater detail, if necessary or of you require assistance with the transfer or letter to patients.  

 


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