Issue 2: May 2023
Message from the Registrar:
Time for a medical record custodianship plan
Given the accelerated pace of physician retirements, the College is receiving a growing number of requests from frustrated patients unable to locate or obtain a copy of their medical record.
While the medical record is the property of a physician, patients are entitled to the contents of their medical records. This right endures after the physician-patient relationship ends, regardless of whether the ending is planned or unexpected.
Given the accelerated pace of physician retirements, the College is receiving a growing number of requests from frustrated patients unable to locate or obtain a copy of their medical record. Most often, this is caused by the absence of a custodianship plan for patient records. Physicians retiring or temporarily leaving practice are obliged to have such a plan in place.
Last year the College, as part of its annual licence renewal, asked physicians to identify whether they had a custodianship plan in place. This year, the College will require physicians to identify the custodian of their records in order to support patient access upon the physician leaving practice.
From the moment a patient record is created, the physician has a responsibility to ensure it is appropriately stored, secured, and maintained, whether the record is digital or paper.
The College’s Professional Standards Regarding the Management of Medical Records directs physicians as follows:
- All physicians, irrespective of practice setting, must take reasonable steps to ensure there is a process in place establishing reasonable and enduring access for patients to their charts.
- Physicians in group practices must have agreements in place to ensure the enduring right of patients to access their charts in the event the practice closes or their physician leaves the practice.
Physicians are also encouraged to review:
- the College’s Professional Standards Regarding Temporarily or Permanently Closing a Medical Practice
- CMPA’s Closing or leaving a practice: Tips for primary care physicians, and
- Doctors Nova Scotia’s A Guide to Closing Your Medical Practice.