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Are Health Record Guidelines the Same in Every State?

Are Health Record Guidelines the Same in Every State?

Health professionals typically know many federal guidelines instruct how to handle patient health records. However, they may not understand whether such guidelines differ from state to state.

Getting clarification on that matter is essential, particularly when people move to other places after practicing in one for extended periods of time, or if they work as traveling providers on short-term assignments.

Medical Retention Time Frames Vary by Location
One of the specifics health providers must comply with during their patient care duties relates to the length of time they keep medical records. The details change based on the state.

Furthermore, there are differences in retention time for hospitals versus physicians. Some states don’t have guidelines for single-party providers but institute them for hospitals or vice versa, which makes things increasingly complex.

Differences also exist for adult patients versus minors. For example, in North Carolina, hospitals must retain the records of adult patients for 11 years after discharge. However, they keep the records of minor patients until their 30th birthdays, which could be significantly longer than 11 years.

Statewide Health Tracking Indicators May Use Federal Data Standards
More than half of U.S. states receive funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to use for creating a state-based tracking of health characteristics of residents and how environmental factors affect them.

Vermont is one of the participating states, and it offers a privacy disclosure within the publicly accessible tool. The details state that personally identifying health information is not disclosed and that the people who engineered the tracker abided by Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) federal laws.

Regardless of the location, states using these tools should provide plain-language privacy statements to the public…

 

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