Health Information Management

Keep medical record retention rules in mind

HIM-HIPAA Insider, December 14, 2010

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In what was perhaps an effort to remind providers to consider medical record retention as they move to EHRs, CMS released MLN Matters SE1022 in August, which addresses medical record retention limits and media formats. 

The article, released soon after the EHR incentive program and meaningful use final rules were published, contains little new information. But it does serve as an important reminder in this time of transition, says Elisa R. Gorton, RHIA, MAHSM, director of revenue cycle and privacy officer at St. Vincent’s Medical Center, Behavioral Health Services in Westport, CT.
Gorton advises providers to keep the information in the back of their minds as they move to a hybrid or electronic record. Don’t just start destroying paper records once you go electronic, she says. “You have to know the rules.”
The release may also be a sign of changing times in terms of HIM staffing. “There are so many people entering the field that may not have gone through a formal education in HIM,” Gorton says. “So you have to go back to the basics in medical records health information practices.”
And even those who have been in the field a long time would do well to take note. Retention inconsistencies are common in hospitals, especially from department to department, says Darice M. Grzybowski, MA, RHIA, FAHIMA, president of HIMentors, LLC, in Westchester, IL.
Note: To read more, visit the HCPro website. Subscribers to Medical Records Briefing have access to this article in the December issue of their newsletters.

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