The policy on medical records retention vary with the nature of the facility, the patient or the provider as stipulated by law all over the United States. In Missouri, my state, health records must be retained for at least ten years in the event of a hospital and seven years where a physician is involved (Corn, 2009). The policy also contrasts other states given that the disciplinary action cannot be sought by the medical board against physicians for not maintaining ample records. The case is, however, different where other violations are involved, and the physician may be held responsible for records retention violations. Minor’s records should be kept for five years after their eighteenth birthday. The records of patients for abortion are different in that they contain unique code numbers and must be maintained seven years for minors or until their twentieth birthday. In North Carolina, ambulatory facilities are required to maintain records of their patients for twenty years after the service (Corn, 2009).
Medical records retention policies vary throughout the states and only slightly similar in the Midwestern states. The state of Illinois requires hospitals to maintain records for the period of ten years unless advised otherwise in writing by a lawyer. Hospitals in this state cannot discard the records until cases involving the patient are closed. However, it may only keep the records for twelve years from the day of receiving attorney’s letter. This state also requires that x ray records be maintained for four years. Hospitals do not have to adhere to these periods if the patient signs their approval for discard of the records (Roach, 1998).
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In Nebraska, patient’s records only ought to be maintained up to the age of twenty one for minor patients, the requirement for other patients, however, is ten years after the adult has been discharged. The policy on minor patients is very different for Iowa and Kansas where patients must only attain the age of nineteen for the records to be discarded. The records may also be discarded in the event of a court order before the stipulated length of time (Corn, 2009).
In all the states of America, health records must be recorded clearly with the reasonable identification of the patient, the condition, and treatment. Medical records policies are useful in ensuring reasonable care and reference for the same for use by physicians and in order to decrease cases of malpractice. A minor is never able to bring malpractice suits against physicians until they have attained the age of eighteen. Moreover, maintaining medical records for these lengths is useful in ensuring smoother treatment processes with good coordination from the physician, facility, and the patient. These policies exist for the sake of higher quality health care (Corn, 2009).
Corn, M. (2009). Archiving the phenome: clinical records deserve long-term preservation. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association , 16 (1), 1-6.
Roach, W. (1998). Medical Records and the Law. Burlington : Jones and Barlett Learning.