The British Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons has reminded physicians about the change to the retention of medical records as defined under section 3-6(2) of the Bylaws under the Health Professions Act. The Act has been amended to reflect the change to the Limitation Act. College registrants are now expected to retain medical records for a minimum period of 16 years from the date of last entry or from the age of majority, whichever is later, except as otherwise required by law as of June 1, 2013.
Highlights from an updated College Guideline on EMRs:
- Physicians may choose either to scan paper records electronically in a “read only” format, e.g. pdf, or to start entering data from day one of their new EMR. Either way, the College recommends that paper records be kept in close proximity for at least six months. Unless they are completely scanned into the EMR, paper records must be kept indefinitely if the patient continues to attend. If the patient has left or moved, paper records must be kept for at least 16 years from the date of last patient contact (or until the patient reaches age 35 for patients under 19).
- Physicians must ensure that complete medical records (paper, electronic, or a combination of both) are accessible at all clinical decision points and for the duration of the retention period prescribed under section 3–6 of the Bylaws under the Health Professions Act.