Physician Practice

HIPAA Q&A: You’ve got questions! We’ve got answers!

Physician Practice Insider, January 12, 2016

Submit your HIPAA questions to Associate Editor Nicole Votta at and we will work with our experts to provide you with the information you need.

Q: What is the recommendation for retaining hard copies of medical records once they have been transferred to an EMR system?

A: This varies quite a bit depending on your storage capabilities and state retention laws. I am aware of some organizations that keep these records for 3–6 years (until the statute of limitations has run out), but this is a very conservative approach. I have also seen six months and one month. I would suggest ensuring you have a rigorous scanning quality control process to reassure yourself that you in fact have the scanned documents and they are readable. I would recommend that you keep the hard copies for at least one month after scanning. You might also want to consult legal counsel on this matter.

Editor’s note: Chris Simons, MS, RHIA, HIM director and privacy officer at Maine General Medical Center in Augusta, Maine, answered this question for HCPro’s HIM Briefings newsletter. This information does not constitute legal advice. Consult legal counsel for answers to specific privacy and security questions.

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