You must follow federal and state-specific guidelines or laws. If no federal or state statutory requirements apply, The Doctors Company recommends the following:
- 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.
State medical boards or associations may also be able to provide policies or recommendations on how long a physician should keep records. For example, the Colorado State Board of Medical Examiners Policy 40-07 recommends retaining medical records for a minimum of seven years after the last date of treatment for an adult and for seven years after a minor has reached the age of majority, or age 25. In California, the California Medical Association recommends that medical records be retained indefinitely or for at least 25 years after the patient’s last visit.
For a more detailed discussion of record retention, see The Doctors Company article, “Medical Record Retention.”