Physician practices handle patient records that contain sensitive information—including financial, demographic, and medical data—on a day-to-day basis. This type of information can put a practice, as well as the patient, at risk if not handled properly. Rheumatology practices should make sure that they have policies and procedures in place for keeping and distributing patient records. In fact, the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has set a national standard for the privacy of health information. Key points include:
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- Patient records should be kept for seven to 10 years after the last date of service.
- Maintenance of patient records should be in compliance with the state statute of limitations in case of any malpractice claims.
- Electronic medical records (EMRs) are becoming commonplace. Keeping EMRs too long can be a risk. Physician practices should periodically destroy records in a consistent manner after the statue of limitations is passed.
- Records that are in paper form should be scanned and stored in an electronic format for easy transfer to an EMR.
- Any addendums or corrections that are made to original documents should be dated and signed before being placed in the patient record.
Physician practices should keep proper, legible patient records on file. It is imperative that staff adhere to the office policies as well as HIPAA guidelines for copying, printing, or transmitting any part of a patient’s health record to protect the practice against any legal consequences.
If you need additional information or assistance with practice management guidelines, coding, or billing, contact Melesia Tillman at email@example.com or (404) 633-3777, ext. 820.