- Governor's Message
- Former Governor's Letter
- Elected New Fellows
- Upcoming Events
- Frequently Asked Questions: Medical Records Issues
I want to thank you for the opportunity to be your Chapter governor for the next 4 years. I look forward to working with all of you to keep our Chapter strong and to expand our local programs. I want to encourage you to participate in our local activities and in particular ask you to look at the list of committees below you might be interested in joining.
- Young Physicians – designed as way for doctors within 16 years of graduating from Residency to network with each other
- Health and Public Policy – to keep up with local and National politics and to craft Resolutions for approval by the Board of Governors of the ACP
- Womens Group – a networking and social group
- Chapter Meeting Planning
- Medical Student Interest Group
- International Medical Graduates Group
- Diversity Group
Anyone interested in hearing more about a Committee or wanting to join should email our Executive Director, Ann Tennett.
I plan to communicate directly with members by sending an email about once a month. It will highlight upcoming local events and link back to the National ACP Web site for details. You can always refer directly to our Chapter page for information on what the Chapter has done recently and plans for the future. Go here for the chapter website.
One of the new activities we are working on is a series of Salon Dinners. Each dinner will be held in a local member’s home. Topics will vary from clinical topics to local politics to issues related to running a practice. Look for further information to come.
Alice Fuisz, MD, FACP
Governor, ACP DC Chapter
Former Governor’s Letter
As my term as Governor comes to end, I wanted to spend a moment or two to thank you for the enormous honor it has been to serve as Chapter Governor and to participate in this exciting organization providing leadership in a historical period of medical practice. Thank you to all who have been participatory in supporting our efforts and especially to my committee chairs and council members. I particularly want to acknowledge the close cooperation of the program directors of our academic university and hospital residency programs who have been instrumental in fostering our strong associates program. (The next Associates Meeting comes up on June 2 at USUHS, so please support it.)
As I write this, medicine faces the unknown outcome of the Supreme Court decisions on the constitutionality of the current provisions of the Health Care Act. Following soon thereafter will be the national election. In early June many of us will again participate in Leadership Day on Capitol Hill. More than ever your voices and thoughts will be needed. Be involved!
Recently, many of us attended the National ACP meeting in New Orleans. During this time we welcomed some of our new Fellows and honorees. Congratulations to our new Masters: Dr. John F. Stapleton and Dr. Paul I. Kimmel. Awardees were Dr. K. Eric De Jonge and the Medical House Call Program of MedStar Health that received the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal (#2) Award; and Dr. Steven M. Holland, who received the American College of Physicians Award for Outstanding Work in Science as Related to Medicine. Also recognized was Dr. William B. Guyol, Jr., who accepted the Edward R. Loveland Memorial Award for a Distinguished Contribution in the Health Field award on behalf of Crudem Foundation for their health care work in Haiti.
Again, I want to thank you all for this past experience of serving you and our fine organization. I hope to see many of you at our future meetings. I urge you to support our new Governor.
Michael S. Gold, MD, FACP
Elected New Fellows
since January 1, 2012
We congratulate the following members who were advanced to Fellowship recently:
James M. Duncan, MD, FACP – Bethesda
Rachel Kaiser, MD, MPH, FACP – Potomac
Linda Katz, MD, FACP – Potomac
Shyam Kottilil, MBBS, FACP – Bethesda
Eyasu Mekonen, MD, FACP – Washington
Tara Palmore MD, FACP – Bethesda
Sean Saedi, MD, FACP – Silver Spring
The Associates Meeting for local Residents will be held on June 2, 2012 at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda. We will also have an Associates meeting in connection with the fall Chapter Meeting.
This year the DC Chapter Meeting will be held at the Marriot Hotel near Dupont Circle/Foggy Bottom on November 16-17. Mark your calendars now and plan to attend.
Frequently Asked Questions: Medical Records Issues
By Laura A. Dixon, BS, JD, RN, CPHRM, and Susan Shepard, MSN, MA, RN, CPHRM of The Doctors Company
Q: How long should records be kept?
A: Although states may have different guidelines or laws, The Doctors Company recommends retaining records for the following time periods:
- California only—indefinitely, or for at least 25 years after the patient’s last visit.
- Adult patients—10 years from the date the patient was last seen.
- Minor patients—28 years from the patient’s birth.
- Deceased patients—five years from the date of death.
Q: Are videos, x-ray films, EKGs, fetal monitor strips, photos, etc., part of the medical record?
A: Yes. Any and all data collected at the time of a patient encounter, regardless of form, is part of the medical/legal document.
Q: Does the medical record include financial information such as billing and insurance data?
A: In some states, yes. Physicians should review billing documents for any reference to the specific health care provided
Q: How long should billing records, telephone calls/messages, and appointment books be kept?
A: The Doctors Company recommends the following:
- - Billing records in all states should be retained for seven years, according to Internal Revenue Service standards, and may be kept in a separate file.
- - Telephone calls that pertain to medical care should be documented in the medical record and kept according to the above medical record retention guidelines.
- - Appointment books may be kept for one year.
Q: If a patient brings his or her past medical records to my office, am I required to maintain all of the copies?
A: The physician should review, extract, and photocopy any information that he or she might need from that record and then return the original documents to the patient. Otherwise, you must maintain such copies for the same length of time as the medical record.
Q: How should hard copy paper records be destroyed? A: The only safe methods for destroying paper records are incineration or shredding. A destruction method for electronic medical records has yet to be determined.
Q: Where can medical records be stored? A: Inactive records may be thinned from the active patient cases and stored outside the office suite. Take the following factors into consideration when making arrangements for long-term storage:
Privacy—protect the records from unauthorized persons.
Safety—protect the records from fire or flood damage and unauthorized access or theft.
Accessibility—make sure the records are easy to retrieve and copy.
Q: Can records be transferred to microfilm, microfiche, or disk or stored in a computer?
A: Yes. Privacy, safety, and accessibility can also guide you when transferring records to microfilm, microfiche, or disk or when storing records in a computer. Computer data should be backed up at regular intervals and stored offsite.
Q: Is it sufficient to back up a copy of an electronic health record (EHR) onto a disk?
A: Yes. However, you should store a copy of the EHR software along with the data itself, to make sure the records can be read in the future. Alternatively, you could save the data in PDF format so it can be read without special software. If you use an application service provider—where your data is stored by the EHR vendor and you access it online—your contract should include terms that ensure your data will be available to you when you’re ready to make arrangements for long-term storage.1
Q: Can I thin and purge medical records prior to storage?
A: Yes. Copies of other health care providers’ medical records, such as hospital records, can be purged because the originals will be maintained by the hospital.
Q: Can I sell my records when I sell my practice?
A: Yes. We suggest that you include the recommended retention time and access capability as part of your sales agreement.
Q: If I move to another state, can I take my records with me?
A: Yes, with the same conditions prevailing for retention and accessibility. It might be reasonable to alert your active/current caseload of your move in order to give patients an opportunity to request a copy of their medical records.
Q: If a patient requests a copy before I move, can I give him or her the original record?
A: No. The original is the property of the physician, who has a duty to maintain the record.
Q: Can a physician take medical records home for documentation completion?
A: No. The only time an active, original medical record should be out of an office is when it is required to be present in a court of law.
Q: If someone claiming to be a representative of a deceased patient’s estate requests a copy of the chart, what do I need to do?
A: You must verify that the individual is a qualified representative of the decedent’s estate (for example, the executor). The individual should provide a copy of an official document from the state as proof.
References 1. O’Brien L. Long-term storage of electronic records. Modern Medicine. February 2008. Available at www.modernmedicine.com. Accessed July 31, 2008. About the Authors This article is by Laura A. Dixon, BS, JD, RN, CPHRM, Director, Department of Patient Safety, Western Region, and Susan Shepard, MSN, MA, RN, CPHRM, Director, Patient Safety Education.