How long must you keep records?

January 6, 2006

We're losing office space to record storage. How long must I keep ECGs, X-rays, and inactive parts of active charts, like visiting nurse plans of care?

Q: We're losing office space to record storage. How long must I keep ECGs, X-rays, and inactive parts of active charts, like visiting nurse plans of care?

A:Regulations vary by state, so check with your state medical association. Most states require physicians to keep records of adult patients for five to 11 years, and records of minors for seven years beyond the age of majority. In one jurisdiction, the film retention requirement for minors is permanent.

If your office is swamped by old records, the most cost-effective solution is to purchase a scanner and digitize them. Another option is to store them off site.