Retaining Notes

June 1, 2004

Our busy practice is overwhelmed with faxes from physicians providing us copies of copious records of procedures, labs, and office visits that have little or no impact on our care of these mutual patients. What legal or ethical guidelines can you suggest for making (or not making) these faxes part of our records? Must we keep every unsolicited piece of paper that comes our way?

Question: Our busy practice is overwhelmed with faxes from physicians providing us copies of copious records of procedures, labs, and office visits that have little or no impact on our care of these mutual patients. What legal or ethical guidelines can you suggest for making (or not making) these faxes part of our records? Must we keep every unsolicited piece of paper that comes our way?

Answer: Generally speaking, any record that the physician uses to treat or make decisions in treatment should be filed in the chart and kept. The rest can be appropriately destroyed. However, check with the risk management department of your malpractice insurer for its guidance, as the policy may depend on specialty and/or special circumstances.