How Long Do I Have to Keep Patient Medical Records?

Texas Medical Board Rule 165.1(b) directs physicians to retain medical records as follows:

  • Keep an adequate medical record for each patient for a minimum of seven years from the anniversary date of last treatment by the physician.
  • If a patient was younger than 18 years of age when last treated by the physician, 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 the TMA white paper, "Retention of Medical Records," MembersOnlyRed for details (log-in required).  

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.

For more information about medical records:

  • Visit the Medical Records resource page on the TMA website.
  • Read TMA's publication, Managing Your Medical Records, which covers all aspects of this topic, from documentation and privacy to release and retention.
  • For answers to questions about medical records and many other topics, call the TMA Knowledge Center at (800) 880-7955.

Updated June 24, 2014

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