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How Long Do Hospitals Keep Medical Records? Updated Guide 2023

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    Posted in Electronic Health Records

    Last Updated | November 17, 2023

    Executive Summary – How Long do Hospitals keep Medical Records

    That raises a number of pertinent queries, such as how long do hospitals keep medical records and what a medical record retention and destruction policy are. Let’s satisfy your curiosity. We created a list of frequently asked queries by patients regarding their medical records. To understand more about this crucial element of efficient, contemporary healthcare, keep reading.

    Introduction – How Long do Hospitals keep Medical Records

    Healthcare is an essential part of our lives, and hospitals are the ultimate facilities that we trust. But hey, one thing is common in every hospital; medical records. We all go to doctors for specialized care, vaccinations, and check-ups, but we hardly see what’s on another side of the doctor’s clipboard. Truth be told, it builds up too much curiosity.

    What is included in the medical records? How long will the hospital store my medical record? Who can see the medical records? To help you out, we are sharing everything that you need to know about medical records and their contents. Are you ready for some in-depth knowledge and information about modern healthcare standards, then?

    How Long to Keep Medical Records By Hospital Using CRM?

    While the few tech geek patients might know what CRM is, but not everyone has this information. But, before we talk about medical record keeping through CRM, there are some things that you must learn. First, healthcare facilities need to opt for HIPAA-compliant software development firms to design the right software solutions.

    An integrated dashboard to manage patient referrals and healthcare staff productivity

    The right choice is to hire healthcare compliance consulting firms because they can design health apps or CRM for improved functionality for healthcare facilities. Coming back to the point, medical record keeping depends on the state and countries. However, the period of medical record keeping ranges from five years to ten years after the death, discharge, or last treatment of the patients.

    The laws are different for every state, and the time needed for record keeping isn’t consistent across the board. This is because the timeline depends on the fact if medical records are kept by hospitals or private medical doctors. In addition, the length of healthcare record keeping also depends on the age of the patient (if the patient is a minor or an adult).

    3 Benefits of Keeping Good Medical Records at Hospitals

    3 Benefits of Keeping Good Medical Records at Hospitals

    What Is A Medical Record Retention And Destruction Policy?

    • Retention Policy

    HIPAA launched the HIPAA Privacy Rule in 1996 which is designed to keep the healthcare service providers accountable for keeping and protecting the medical records and other information of the patients. It hasn’t specified the retention time for different types of medical records, but it surely states that the medical records have to be retained for at least six years from the development date.

    It’s important to outline that some state laws ask the medical service providers and facilities to retain the medical records for more than six years. The minimum medical record retention period is different for every state (some have a longer period as compared to the timeline specified in HIPAA, while some states have a shorter retention timeline). In addition, the medical records and the destruction logs are useful for keeping track of records that are currently being retained or destroyed records.

    For this reason, keeping the log streamlines record management and ensures that the medical facility is working in compliance with state laws as well as HIPAA. As far as medical record retention is concerned, it can be done in two formats, such as on paper and EMRs. When it comes down to the paper format, the file boxes must be labelled with the retention time. Once the retention time is over, the storage providers have the destruct the records.

    On the other hand, digital formats (electronic health record systems) are essential for managing and storing EMRs. It can be configured for tracking the medical records’ retention period. Also, once when the retention period is over, the medical healthcare provider can delete the files automatically (the EHRs can be configured automatically).

    • Destruction Policy

    With the medical record destruction, there are two different methods for tracking the retention periods and paper. In case of paper record destruction, the storage providers can shred these records through the off-site yet secure shredding provider or on-site shredder. In addition, the medical healthcare providers must have the formal destruction certificate available once the records are destructed.

    This certification must have the witness, location, and date information to reduce the chances of legal consequences. On the other hand, the electronic health record systems can be configured to delete the medical records automatically after the completion of the retention period. However, the files remain on the hard drive, which is why the hard drives have to be destroyed. Also, it’s a must to get the destruction certificate made as proof.

    When we talk about HIPAA, keep in mind that it doesn’t demand document retention; it asks to prevent the disclosure. This is because HIPAA is the state law that states how medical records should be stored. Consequently, every medical facility and entity needs to comply with the state laws for the retention period of medical records.

    How Long Do Doctors Keep Medical Records?

    There is no one timeline for retaining and storing medical records. This is because HIPAA laws demand the users to store the medical records for six years, while federal law demands them to retain the medical records for at least seven years after the medical service is provided to the patients. In addition, the timeline goes up to ten years for Medicare patients. So, the certain timeline for medical record keeping is different for every state, which means you need to consult the state laws.

    How Can I Get Medical Records From 20 Years Ago?

    The doctors and physicians are responsible for documenting the medical and clinical history of the patients. It helps them determine and outline that the medical treatment was implemented properly. However, medical records are extremely sensitive and private documents with proper legal protection.

    As far as getting the medical records from 20 years ago is concerned, there are multiple methods, but this is a challenging task. This is because the healthcare facility might have closed down or the doctor might be retired. So, you can consult the following methods for getting medical records from twenty years ago, such as;

    • Check The Documents

    In several cases, we tend to have more information as compared to what we believe. For this reason, before you request someone else to find your medical records, check the personal documents and files. This is because you are highly likely to have the records in the form of prescriptions, medical reports, and test results in copied form.

    • Request The Hospital

    If you cannot find the medical records in your document cabinet, you can simply opt for the formal request and visit the hospital or clinic where you received the treatment and ask for the medical records. This is because multiple healthcare facilities have a formal process for extracting the documents.

    On the other hand, if they don’t have a process in place, simply write an application with your identification information, such as name, address, DOB, phone number, and social security number, and send it to the hospital. However, make sure that you add the case information along with the year of treatment and medical conditions. Lastly, do add which documents you need and why they are needed.

    • Insurance Companies & Doctors

    In case you are unable to obtain the medical records from the hospital or clinic, visit the private office of the doctor and ask them for the records. In addition, you can also visit the insurance company and send the same application to them (the one you sent to the hospital) because insurance companies tend to keep this information safe.

    For the most part, you might need to wait for thirty to sixty days for getting approval of your request or even getting a reply. Also, always keep the original request’s copy. If nothing else works and you are unable to get access to the medical records, contact the department of health (every state and city has this department).

    What Is The Release Of Medical Records Laws?

    For those who don’t know, the medical records release form is used to make a request to the healthcare provider asking for the medical records. The form asks the healthcare facilities to release the medical records by the respective authorities. In addition, when it comes down to releasing the medical records and the associated laws, the following points must be considered and kept in mind;

    • All the medical records belong to patients because they have the right to control the information released to themselves of others
    • The information about the patient’s medical chart cannot be released without the written permission of the students. This written permission must be dated, and it should state who can access the released information and which type of information is delivered to the specific party, along with the expiration date of the permission.
    • The physician or doctor has to ensure that the medical records are being released to the authorized parties and individuals

    How Long Do Hospitals Keep Medical Records By The State?

    Medical record keeping is important for every hospital and healthcare provider. However, the timeline for recording the medical information and files vary by state, even after HIPAA laws.

    When it comes down to keeping the medical records, it’s important to add that medical record keeping will be largely impacted by the UX that the hospitals are using. To illustrate, if the UX in healthcare has loopholes, the information won’t be secure and can be corrupted. For this reason, the hospitals need to ensure that UX design has no loops and promises stringent security.

    In this section, we are sharing for how long the hospitals can keep the medical records, and we are adding the information for different states, such as;

    • How Long Do Hospitals Keep Medical Records In New York?

    According to the NYS Department of Health, the medical, and healthcare providers should retain the medical records for six years in the case of adult patients. In the case of minor patients, the records must be kept for six years or after one year of the minor reaching the adult age.

    • How Long Do Hospitals Keep Medical Records In Florida?

    According to the laws of Florida, the physicians must maintain and retain the medical records for five years. After five years, the medical records can be destroyed without worrying about the legal consequences.

    • How Long Do Hospitals Keep Medical Records In Illinois?

    With Illinois law, the hospitals must store the medical records for ten years. However, there is no rule about doctors holding medical records. The patients can always amend the medical records or get copies if the hospital has them.

    • How Long Do Hospitals Keep Medical Records In Texas?

    The physicians in Texas should keep the medical records safe for up to seven years and it’s a minimum timeline. That being said, the hospitals and medical health providers can keep the medical records for a longer time period if they want.

    • How Long Do Hospitals Keep Medical Records In Massachusetts?

    The clinics and medical institutions should keep and retain the medical records for thirty years after the patient has been discharged. The same timeline applies to the HMOs with a staff-model system.

    • How Long Do Hospitals Keep Medical Records In NJ?

    When it comes down to the hospitals in New Jersey, they need to store the medical records for ten years after the discharge date. In the case of minor patients, their medical records must be stored until they reach the age of twenty-three years old.

    • How Long Do Hospitals Keep Medical Records In Georgia?

    The doctors and/or physicians must retain the medical records for a minimum of ten years after the discharge date. In addition, if the patients ask, the doctors should provide the medical records within thirty days.

    • How Long Do Hospitals Keep Medical Records In Ohio?

    Once the patient is discharged from the hospital, their medical records must be kept for at least six years in case of a healthcare facility. On the other hand, the healthcare service should keep the medical records for five years.

    • How Long Do Hospitals Keep Medical Records In California?

    The medical records of the Medi-Cal patients should be kept for ten years. On the other hand, the HMO records have to be maintained for two years at least.


    How long do hospitals keep medical records after death?

    According to the HIPAA laws, health records must be kept for fifty years after a person is dead. However, some states only have a five to ten years retention period.

    What is the statute of limitations for keeping medical records?

    When it comes down to the limitations, the minimum retention period is five years. However, if some states have less than six years of retention period, the healthcare organizations need to retain the information for six years under HIPAA law.

    What happens to medical records after 10 years?

    If the retention period was ten years and the timeline is over, the medical records won’t be destroyed instantly. This is because the medical records have to be transferred to the local health department’s state storage.

    How long do hospitals keep medical records in the UK?

    In the United Kingdom, the medical records have to be kept for eight years after the treatment is complete or after the patient’s death.

    What is a digital health company?

    The digital health companies help design the digital care programs to improve the healthcare provision and ensuring the personalization of medicine.

    What is the cost of developing a health app?

    In the case of a mobile app, the complete costs range up to $425,000 which includes the design, development, support, maintenance, and launch.

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