Whether your medical records need to be shared, transferred or stored, you must make all reasonable efforts to ensure they are managed in a safe and legal manner according to privacy legislation and the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs).
Relevant state, territory and federal laws relating to the collection, storage, use, disclosure and disposal of patients’ health and personal details continue to apply when you sell or close a general practice.
Transferring health information
Your practice should have a documented and auditable system for the secure transfer of patients’ health information, regardless of the reason for the transfer. For example, if you are closing or changing your practice, or if a patient wants to transfer their health records to another practice at any time. All transfer of information must comply with the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs).
In addition, we recommend that you obtain written consent from each patient to have their health information transferred to protect against legal action for breach of privacy requirements.
Retention and storage of medical records
Each state and territory specifies minimum retention periods for health records.
In some jurisdictions, records of people over 18 need to be kept for 7 years, and records of children must be kept until they are 25.
Many insurers recommend that practices keep health records indefinitely.
Consider retaining patient records indefinitely even after you cease practising, in case there is a medical indemnity claim and you need to provide records and/or defend your practice.