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105. Mass. Code Regs. 130.370. - Retention of Records

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A hospital must retain a patient’s records for at least 20 years from discharge or the patient’s last treatment.  The medical records can be in various forms, such as handwritten, typed, or electronic.  If a medical record is transferred to an electronic format, it may be destroyed before the 20 year retention period.  Any destruction of medical records must maintain the confidentiality of patient information.  X-rays, scans, images and other such items are not considered to be part of the medical record, and only have to be retained for a minimum period of 5 years from the date of service as long as the results from the data are transferred into the medical record.  The hospital must maintain all patient medical records in a way that maintain their confidentiality.  

The medical records must be made available to a patient or his or her authorized representative for inspection and copying upon written request.  This right to inspect and copy and the retention policy must be provided to the patient by the hospital.  The hospital may charge a reasonable rate to cover administrative costs.  The hospital must make all medical records available to the Department of Public Health when needed.  The hospital must give written notice to the Department at least 30 days prior to destroying any medical records for which the retention period has expired.  The notice should include the records being destroyed and dates of service.  A hospital is not required to notify a patient that his or her medical record is being destroyed after the 20 year retention period has expired.  

Current as of June 2015