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What is a custodian of records?

A custodian of records has the responsibility of safeguarding records for the duration they are required to be protected, according to law. This responsibility may apply to paper files or Electronic Health Records (EHR). The length of time different types of files must be preserved varies to meet legal requirements imposed by the federal or state governments.

In the case of medical records, a records custodian aside from maintaining the integrity of the files, must protect the privacy of the individual according to HIPAA standards (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). HIPAA applies federal standards of privacy for the patient, ensuring that no medical information is given out without the patient’s consent.

Additionally, the custodian must protect paper, or digital records for periods of time indicated by law to ensure patient access if the patient has not already requested copies prior to the closing of the practice. Requests from the patient, physicians, family, or court will be handled by the custodian as indicated by the patient’s consent.