How Long Do I Have to Keep Patient Medical Records?

NOTICE: Please check the Texas Medical Board Web site ( www.tmb.state.tx.us ) for current updates on its rules and policies with respect to this issue.  

Texas Medical Board  Rule 165.1(a) directs medical practices to retain medical records as follows:

  • Keep an adequate medical record that is "complete, contemporaneous, and legible" for each patient for a minimum of seven years from the anniversary date of last treatment.
  • If a patient was younger than 18 years of age when last treated, keep the medical records until the patient reaches age 21, or for seven years from the date of last treatment, whichever is longer.
  • Do not destroy medical records that relate to any civil, criminal, or administrative proceeding if you know the proceeding has not been finally resolved.
  • Follow any federal or state regulation that requires you to retain medical records longer than the above time periods. Read Retention of Medical Records for details.  membersonlyred(2) 

TMA recommends that practices design a retention schedule for each location where they maintain medical records. The plan should include provisions for the automatic transfer of eligible records to inactive storage and, later, destruction of the medical record itself. The policy should specify what information to keep, how long to keep it, and what storage medium to use.

Additional TMA resources:

  • Check TMA's online course catalog for current educational offerings related to medical records.
  • For answers to questions about medical records and many other topics, call the TMA Knowledge Center at (800) 880-7955 or (512) 370-1550.

Content reviewed: 6/05/12

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