The term for keeping medical records
27 June 2000
The present legal requirements for the keeping of medical records raise several questions. Scientists are concerned about the (permanent) availability of medical data, since the law requires such data to be saved in principle for ten years, or so much longer as follows reasonably from the duties of a health care professional.
On 19 April 2000 the Health Council of the Netherlands organized a workshop dedicated to this topic. The discussions during this workshop did point out that there is indeed a problem. Scientific developments show a steady increase in volume as well as in importance, whereas after 2005 a significant fraction of medical records older than ten years may no longer be available.
Three recommendations emerge from the workshop. Firstly: play for time by using the breathing pause until 1 April 2005 offered by the legislator. Secondly it is a matter of importance to thoroughly investigate the possibilities that the law already provides and to fully utilize these. In the third place there is reason to engage in a more fundamental debate about saving medical records. Such debate should take into account the developments in medical care and clinical science, the background of the present legal framework and international aspects.
Health Council of the Netherlands: The term for keeping medical records. The Hague: Health Council of the Netherlands, 2000; publication no. 2000/15. ISBN 90-5549-326-0