ILLINOIS - MEDICAL RECORDS

March 19, 2008

Illinois state laws and regulations that affect your medical practice

What is included in a patient’s medical records?

A patient’s medical records include patient history, treatment notes, charts, pictures, plates, and all other documents kept in connection with the treatment of a patient.

735 ILCS 5/8-2001-03

How long must a physician retain medical records?

In Illinois, there is no specific law governing record retention by private physicians. Thus, physicians are free to establish their own policies regarding the preservation of medical records; however, since a lawsuit could be brought from the time of treatment up to the statute of limitations, it may be in a physician’s best interest to retain the medical records until the statute of limitations has expired.

In Illinois, a medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed within two years from the date the victim knew, or should have known of the malpractice and all malpractice actions must be brought no later than four years from the date of treatment. There is an 8-year statute of limitations on actions by minors. Thus, it is advisable for physicians to retain their patient records for at least 4 years for adults and 8 years for minors.

Who owns medical records?

In Illinois, medical records are physically owned by the health care provider, but every patient has the right to review his or her medical records.

What right does a patient have to access his or her medical records?

Upon a patient’s request, all practitioners must allow the patient or his authorized representative to examine and copy the patient’s medical records.

Any request to examine and copy medical records must be in writing. The health care facility or practitioner must comply with the request within a reasonable time, no later than 30 days. If the records are not available within 30 days, the facility or practitioner may present the patient with a written statement regarding the delay and must then provide the requested information no later than 60 days after receiving the request.

735 ILCS 5/8-2001-03

May a physician charge for copying costs of medical records?

Health care facilities and practitioners may be reimbursed for all reasonable expenses associated with record copying and production not to exceed: a $20 handling charge, 75 cents per page for the first 25 pages, 50 cents per page for the 26th through 50th page, and 25 cents per page for all additional pages. These rates adjusted annually as set forth in 735 ILCS 5/8-2006.

735 ILCS 5/8-2001-03

What should be done with medical records when a practitioner closes a practice?

A health care practitioner must provide the public with at least 30 days prior notice of the closure of a practice. The notice may be given by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the area in which the practice is located. The notice must include information regarding how patients may access copies of the practitioner’s records.

What kind of power does the Medical Board have to subpoena patient records?

Upon a showing of probable cause that there has been a violation of the Medical Practice Act, the Illinois Disciplinary Board may subpoena the medical and hospital records of individual patients of any physician. The subpoena must:

A) Be in writing;

B) Be signed by the Medical Coordinator or Deputy Medical Coordinator;

C) State one or more grounds for discipline alleged to be violated;

D) Identify with reasonable specificity the records requested; and

E) Include an affidavit of a person having knowledge of facts upon which the request is based.

A subpoena for individual medical records must be served during reasonable business hours and requires the party served to safeguard the confidentiality of patients by removing any identifying information.

68 Ill. Admin. Code §1285.265

Copyright © Kern Augustine Conroy and Schoppmann, P.C. Used with permission.

Updated 2008