Abandoned Medical Records Alert

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Abandoned Medical Records Alert

The Florida Department of Health is experiencing an increase in the number of reports regarding abandoned medical records.

In an effort to curb this trend, the Florida Board of Medicine is sending out this campaign to educate doctors regarding the retention and disposition of medical records.

The Board of Medicine and the Legislature recognize the need for maintenance and retention of medical records in order to protect and serve patients. For that reason, the Legislature has directed the Board to promulgate rules setting standards that will provide a minimum requirement for retention and disposition of patient records of deceased practitioners and practitioners relocating and terminating practice. Rule 64B8-10.002, F.A.C., sets forth standards which if not met will constitute a violation of Section 456.058, Florida Statutes, and will subject the physician to disciplinary proceedings by the Department of Health. Physicians should retain records as long as needed not only to serve and protect patients, but also to protect themselves against adverse actions.

When a licensed physician terminates practice or relocates and is no longer available to patients, patients should be notified of such termination, sale, or relocation and unavailability by the physician causing to be published once during each week for four (4) consecutive weeks, in the newspaper of greatest general circulation in each county in which the physician practices or practiced and in a local newspaper that serves the immediate practice area, a notice which shall contain the date of termination, sale, or relocation and an address at which the records may be obtained from the physician terminating or selling the practice or relocating or from another licensed physician or osteopathic physician. A copy of this notice shall also be submitted to the Board of Medicine within one (1) month from the date of termination, sale, or relocation of the practice. The licensed physician may, but is not required to, place a sign in a conspicuous location on the facade of the physician's office or notify patients by letter of the termination, sale, or relocation of the practice. The sign or notice shall advise the licensed physician's patients of their opportunity to transfer or receive their records.

A licensed physician relocating or terminating practice shall keep adequate written medical records, as required by Section 458.331(1)(m), Florida Statutes, for a period of at least five years from the last patient contact.

The executor, administrator, personal representative or survivor of a deceased physician licensed pursuant to Chapter 458, Florida Statutes, shall retain medical records in existence upon the death of the physician concerning any patient of the physician for at least a period of two (2) years from the date of the death of the physician.

For more information, please visit our website at http://flboardofmedicine.gov/resources/ to view Florida Statute 456.057, 456.0575, 456.058 and Florida Administrative Code 64B8-10.

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