Records retention is challenging for healthcare entities. The requirements are complex and there is a lack of harmony among state, federal, and accreditation requirements. State and federal regulations identify different documents you must maintain in a patient’s medical record and mandate different retention periods for the medical record.

Federal law typically requires the retention of medical records for five years. In contrast, states tend to mandate longer retention periods that average seven to ten years after a patient’s most recent visit. However, there are exceptions, such as Massachusetts, which requires the retention of medical records for at least twenty years. Mississippi is another exception, which requires different retention periods based on the type of patient, but mandates the destruction of certain medical records after twenty-eight years.

Nuances in state law may also require specific retention methods or impose additional requirements for certain healthcare entities. For example...

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Author: Associate General Counsel, Travis Futas at Zasio Enterprises, Inc.