Taking Charts When Leaving a Group

June 1, 2008

I’m leaving my current practice. What are the legalities regarding charts? There was no mention of this in the contract I signed with the group, and they really don’t care. Obviously, I would prefer to take all the charts with me. I’m just moving to a different office in the same complex; most of the patients will follow me, I’m sure.

Question: I’m leaving my current practice. What are the legalities regarding charts? There was no mention of this in the contract I signed with the group, and they really don’t care. Obviously, I would prefer to take all the charts with me. I’m just moving to a different office in the same complex; most of the patients will follow me, I’m sure.

Answer: Generally, the group owns the charts, not the physician.

Your current group does need to retain originals because they are liable for malpractice or billing issues that come up later on.

In any circumstance, patients can request that a copy of their files be sent to you. What you might do is ask the group to copy charts for you only as patients come to you versus copying everything when you aren’t sure which patients will stay or go.

You also should review this comprehensive article from the AAFP. Note that you need to advise patients that you are leaving. This gives them an opportunity to request a chart transfer.