Health Information Technologies and Processes

Deleting electronic charts

  • 1.  Deleting electronic charts

    Posted 10-10-2019 09:36
    Good Morning,
       I'm wondering if i can get some insight on deleting people's electronic records after 10 years.  How do you feel about it?  We currently run a hybrid record at my work and our legal department is telling us that if the patient has been admitted within 10 years, then we should be destroying the paper chart and deleting their stays out of the electronic record as well.   Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you

    Jessica Taylor
    Health Information Technician 2

  • 2.  RE: Deleting electronic charts

    Posted 10-10-2019 12:15
    We run a hybrid chart too and se Meditech.  We are being told we cannot delete anything that is in the EMR electronically.  Currently we have a court order to remove something and our attorneys have not found a resolution yet.

    Deanna Heinrich
    Director of HIM/Privacy Officer

  • 3.  RE: Deleting electronic charts

    Posted 10-11-2019 07:53

    We also have a 10 year retention policy and are working now with our IT Dept to destroy all electronic records older than 10 years, regardless of whether the patients have been readmitted since then......


    Wendy Mangin, MS, RHIA

    Executive Project Director – Regulatory Compliance/Privacy Officer


    Good Samaritan 

    520 S. Seventh St. | Vincennes, Indiana | 47591

    Hospital: 812.882.5220 | Direct: 812.885.3487 

    Fax: 812.885.3912 | 

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  • 4.  RE: Deleting electronic charts

    Posted 10-11-2019 10:28

    That sounds like a good idea. I think our legal department would have issue with it though.


  • 5.  RE: Deleting electronic charts

    Posted 10-12-2019 09:08
    We have a retention period if 10 years at our organization (7 years by state law) but have no plans as if yet for destroying electronic records. We have only been on the EHR for 6 years so far though.

    Tara Yeaton
    H.I.M. Director and Deputy Privacy Officer

  • 6.  RE: Deleting electronic charts

    Posted 10-14-2019 11:12
    I am very interested in this topic.  I brought it up a couple of years ago however did not get much feedback.
    We have a 10 year retention period too, except for minors which is related to their age at time of dc.
    We have paper records which we destroy after 10 years unless readmitted.  We also have 2 former electronic records in which the records have all been saved as PDFs.  Now we have a hybrid record, mostly electronic and all paper is scanned so there is not long term retention of paper on our current system.
    If there are regs out there that say we have to keep electronic records indefinitely I would certainly appreciate someone sharing the reg with me.
    Also, for those of you who are destroying electronic records how are you identifying those that are up for destruction?  Is it through your discharge log report?
    Thank you,

    Kathryn Boyes
    Director, HIM

  • 7.  RE: Deleting electronic charts

    Posted 10-14-2019 13:00
    Great discussion. I have not seen specific guidance or regulation on electronic record retention/destruction, although there have been a few posts and articles about best practices..

    I imagine that the discussion might be framed around the type of healthcare organization, such as academic/research, ambulatory only, etc. Also, unless there are specific business critical requirements that make retaining electronic records beyond 10-years prohibitive (such as cost for space, security concerns, etc.) then perhaps most organizations will not view this as low-hanging fruit. 

    We do actively enforce our retention policy (10-years adults, etc.) for our remaining paper records, however our research and Compliance communities have pretty strong arguments against destruction of electronic records. We have moved forward with processes that include scanning paper records that have been subpoenaed, and other sensitive request types, and then destroying the paper. 

    Maria C. Alizondo, MOL, RHIT, FAHIMA
    Director | Health Information Management Services
    ISS | Information Services & Solutions  
    Office: 310-267-7603 | Cell: 818-590-7504

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  • 8.  RE: Deleting electronic charts

    Posted 10-15-2019 11:49
    Edited by Aurae Beidler 10-15-2019 11:51
    Good morning,
    We're working on a panel on record retention issues and that specific question for our regional HCCA meeting in February. I'm still trying to find speakers for it so I will let you all know what I learn after Feb 7th.

    I've also been told that our EHR (Epic but run through OCHIN) does not allow the destruction of records as we are part of a collaborative. This may not be true but we aren't even close to being on it 10 years (implementation was 2017). We do have an older system we are archiving now so I let IT know we need to look at the records older than 10 years, if there are any. We have been paper until recently for many processes and programs but I understand how this is quite an issue for those who've been on an EHR longer.

    We maintain records at Iron Mountain and have found we've had to release very old records because they were requested and not destroyed. This can be quite an effort for large paper charts.

    Aurae Beidler MHA,RHIA,CHPS,CHC
    Compliance/Privacy Officer

  • 9.  RE: Deleting electronic charts

    Posted 10-15-2019 12:00
    Also, here's a good article on some of the aspects we've presented here - a little dated but still good to think about -

    When I presented on some of this earlier this year at a privacy summit, I was asked if there was any litigation or case law on record retention but couldn't think of anything off the top of my head. The question was posed, what if a record for one patient was not destroyed but another was and what the liability could be if the record retention policy was not followed. It was an interesting question.

    Aurae Beidler MHA,RHIA,CHPS,CHC
    Compliance/Privacy Officer