The new Patient Record Retention standard addresses the responsibilities of regulated members for the collection, use, disclosure and protection of health information. Most importantly, the standard identifies that a regulated member is responsible for following the rules established in the Health Information Act (HIA).
The principles of the new standard are unchanged from the previous Patient Records standard. New to the standard is the expectation that physicians name a successor custodian.
- Having a successor custodian will ensure patient records are appropriately protected and accessible even in rare circumstances where a physician is unable (or fails) to do so him/herself. For example, a physician could die suddenly or within the 10-year period his/her patient records must be retained by law, or move to another jurisdiction and abandon his/her patient records without making appropriate arrangements (in breach of the standard).
- A successor custodian may be an eligible entity, colleague or other healthcare professional, as designated in the Health Information Regulation.
- A successor custodian must be willing to fulfil this role, and can be named through an agreement or as part of a clinic’s policies and procedures.
Some physicians may choose to make arrangements with a records management company to store their patient records. In this case, a successor custodian must still be named to fulfil the duties and powers of custodians identified in Part 6 of the HIA. The HIA Guidelines and Practice Manual is a good resource for additional information.
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