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Mass. Gen. Laws. Ann. ch. 111, § 70 - Records of hospitals or clinics; custody; inspection; copies; fees

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Hospitals or clinics must retain medical records for 20 years after the discharge or the final treatment of a patient. Hospitals and clinics are the owners of the medical records in their possession.


Hospitals/clinics must keep records of the cases treated, either in handwritten, printed, typed or electronic digital media.  The hospital can destroy the records only after the retention period has elapsed and after notifying the Department of Public Health that the records are being destroyed.  Hospitals must inform patients of the records’ termination policy.  The records must remain in the custody of the hospital or clinic, but the law gives the patient or his or her guardian or legal representative the right, upon request, to inspect and copy his or her own records at a reasonable fee.  The law defines a reasonable fee as not more than a $15 base charge per request and not more than $.50 per page for the first 100 pages copied, or not more than $.25 per page for copies of the medical record in excess of 100 pages.  The hospital or clinic cannot charge a fee to a patient who requests a copy of his or her medical record for the purpose of supporting a claim or appeal under the Social Security Act or any other federal or state financial needs based assistance program.  

Current as of January 2016