WSR 05-21-122



[ Filed October 19, 2005, 8:50 a.m. ]


Title of Policy: Guidelines on Retention of Medical Records When Closing a Practice.

Issuing Entity: Medical Quality Assurance Commission.

Description: A physician continues to have an obligation to patients before, during, and after the closing of the physician's practice. A physician may not abandon a patient or abruptly withdraw from the care of a patient, except in cases of death or other incapacity of the physician. A physician should also make reasonable provisions for continued care of patients and maintenance or transfer of their records in the event of the physician's unanticipated death or incapacity.

A physician should give a ninety-day written notice to patients prior to the closing of the physician's practice to allow the patients to secure other care. The transition of care should be done with minimal disruption to the patient's care. When a physician leaves a group or hospital practice, the patients of the physician must be notified. Patient records and x-rays must be retained for five year from the date of a patient's death, ten years from the date of a patient's last visit, prescription refill, telephone contact, test or other patient contact, twenty-one years from the date of a minor patient's birth, or indefinitely if the patient is incompetent, if the physician is aware of any problems with a patient's care, or has any reason to believe the patient may be involved in litigation.

Effective Date: July 8, 2005.

Contact Person: Beverly Thomas, Program Manager, Health Professions Quality Assurance, Department of Health, P.O. Box 47866, Olympia, WA 98504-7866, (360) 236-4788.

Washington State Code Reviser's Office