Medical Records Custody Agreement

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Medical Records Custody Agreement

A Brief Introduction About the Medical Records Custody Agreement

Medical records custody transfers are very common in health care transactions, for example, asset purchases or sales, or if a health care provider is retiring or leaving a practice. Medical records custody agreements make certain that records are maintained for lawfully required periods towards facilitating ongoing patient care, payment, audit, as well as other purposes.

In these agreements, the providers must take care to make certain that, in addition to retention and availability, custody agreements ensure the ongoing security of medical records in any form. Paper records must be secured according to HIPAA standards, for instance, stored in a locked facility with physical safeguards according to HIPAA standards.

Storing in a retiring physician’s driveway, abandoned office space, public storage facility, or any other unsecured physical location is not consistent with HIPAA standards. Records in electronic form should be protected according to the HIPAA Security Rule.

Who Takes the Medical Records Custody Agreement?

The custodians who agree to maintain records could be physicians, non-physicians, or medical record commercial storage facilities who make and sign the agreement with the providers. So ideal, the agreement is signed between the custodians and the providers.

This agreement guarantees access to the records by the physician’s former patients as well as these patients’ newly chosen physicians.

Purpose of the Medical Records Custody Agreement

These agreements for retaining medical records are usually entered into for a fee and must be in writing.

A written agreement must guarantee future access towards the records for both the physician and patients and should comprise the following points:

  • The custodian shall keep and maintain the medical records for the retention times specified. However, as per the medical records retention laws by state, many factors impact the medical record retention regulations.
  • No one is permitted access to the information contained in the medical records without a signed release from the patient or a properly executed subpoena or court order, which also elaborates on how to get medical records, how long are medical records kept with them and how long do doctors keep medical records.
  • The original physician or physician’s representative shall be notified relating to any change of the custodian’s address or phone number.
  • Terms apply to every person in the custodian’s employment and facility.
  • Copies of medical records shall be released towards an individual designated by the patient only with the patient’s written request, also in the case of transferring medical records to new doctor.
  • It should also include all the records in the patients charts, even if it is from the provider. This will require details about releasing medical records from another provider.
  • The custodian would comply with the state as well as federal laws, access, disclosure, and charges for copies of the records.
  • There must agree upon fees for maintaining the records.
  • It comprises language that addresses any personal practice decisions made through a custodian (retirement, selling, or moving) to ascertain the security and continued access towards the records by the original physician or physician’s representative.

How to find old medical records online? You can access old medical record is available through the Patient Health Portal. Can any doctor access my medical records? Information contained in the medical records is deemed highly private. However, under a variety of circumstances, a doctor may share the information in medical records without permission from the patient.

Contents of the Medical Records Custody Agreement

Medical records custody agreements for retaining medical records are usually entered into for a fee and must be in writing.

A written Medical records custody agreement must guarantee future access towards the records for both the physician and patients and should comprise the following points:

  • The custodian shall keep and maintain the medical records for the retention times specified.
  • No one is permitted access to the information contained in the medical records without a signed release from the patient or a properly executed subpoena or court order.
  • The original physician or physician’s representative shall be notified relating to any change of the custodian’s address or phone number.
  • Terms apply to every person in the custodian’s employment and facility.
  • Copies of medical records shall be released towards an individual designated by the patient only with the patient’s written request.
  • The custodian would comply with the state as well as federal laws, access, disclosure, and charges for copies of the records.
  • There must agree upon fees for maintaining the records.
  • It comprises language that addresses any personal practice decisions made through a custodian (retirement, selling, or moving) to ascertain the security and continued access towards the records by the original physician or physician’s representative.

How to Draft Medical Records Custody Agreement

Once an individual has determined who would act as custodian, it is suggested that the parties enter into a written agreement. The recommended contents of Medical records custody agreement must contain:

  1. All terms must be in writing. Oral understandings cannot be dependent upon.
  2. The custodian should guarantee future access towards the records for both the physician and the patient. The custodian must understand that patients would only be given a copy of their record and that the custodian part in maintaining the original records would continue until otherwise provided for in the custodial agreement. Patients must be charged for copies according to state law.
  3. The fees, if any, to act as a custodian must be clearly defined.
  4. The custodian should agree to keep and maintain the medical records for the retention times that are stated for the particular state.
  5. There must be no right to access the information contained in the medical records without a signed release from the patient or correctly executed subpoena or court order. If the new custodian is a hospital or a physician, then records can be accessed for treatment purposes.
  6. If the custodian relocates, or goes out of business, or changes any contact information, the original physician or the physician’s representative should be notified. It is also suggested that the agreement state a procedure by which decisions would be made on how to ensure the safety of, as well as continued access to, the records.
  7. The state, as well as federal laws governing medical record confidentiality, access, and disclosure, must be specified in the agreement.

When a custodian is located and an agreement is made between the parties, they must share this information with patients who would require to know how they could access their records. Failure to address these important considerations risks not only a breach but also,  aggressive enforcement by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

Benefits and Drawbacks of Medical Records Custody Agreement

In the event of a transfer of medical records, the parties must agree on how to notify patients, who would be responsible for maintaining the records (custodianship), and who shall respond to requests from patients (which includes personal representatives). Also, some states might prohibit or sternly restrict the sale of medical records. In that case, it might be a good idea towards addressing the transfer of medical records through a custodial agreement instead of having them transferred with the other assets

What Happens in Case of Violation?

Failure to address these important considerations risks not only a breach but also, aggressive enforcement by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR)(1).

Thus it could be concluded that the Medical record custody agreement is required to comply with every relevant state and federal laws relating to the confidentiality, retention, disclosure, as well as disposal of medical records.