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Record keeping - retention

As a nurse in independent practice, what should I do about patient care records when I stop practicing?

As the custodian of your patients’ personal health information, you should develop policies on retaining and disposing care records in keeping with legislation, such as the Personal Health Information Protection Act. This should include a succession plan on how records are managed when you stop practicing. 

Any change in a custodian’s practice, such as a retirement, relocation, medical leave, or unexpected death, if not properly planned for, may affect patients’ privacy by leaving health records abandoned. Abandonment of health records may result in serious implications for the privacy of individuals and the security of their health information. 

Custodians are accountable for taking reasonable steps to protect all personal health information against privacy breaches. You can review the following Fact Sheet on best practices to prevent abandoned records. 

Visit the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario website to find more information and resources on retaining and protecting personal health information.

Page last reviewed May 28, 2019