Tennessee – Dental Records Rule

Tennessee – Dental Records Rule Image

We receive a great deal of calls to our office inquiring what to do with old paper records in storage.  Typically the dental office has long since transitioned to a computer and now fully digital.

Old records are stored in dentist’s houses, basements, storage buildings or within the dental office. This is particularly a problem when a new dentist is taking over the practice and wonders what to do with records of patients he or she may never see as patients.  Selling dentists and dentists in practice for a long time should carefully review the regulations.

Keep in mind the best way to protect data is either by destruction or encryption. Thus, with a paper record please consider the following rules governing the practice of dentistry in Tennessee.  If you practice in another state, please consult your state’s website as states vary in record retention rules.

According to Chapter 0460-02, retention of records shall be retained for a period of not less than SEVEN (7) years from the dentist’s or his supervisee’s last professional contact with the patient except for the following: 1)  Dental records for incompetent patients shall be retained indefinitely. 2)  Dental records of minors shall be retained for a period of not less than one (1) year after the minor reaches the age of majority or seven (7) years from the date of the dentist’s or his supervisees’ last professional contact with the patient whichever is longer.  3)  Notwithstanding the foregoing, no dental record involving services which are currently under dispute shall be destroyed until the dispute is resolved.

Destruction of Dental Records:  1)  No dental record shall be singled out for destruction other than in accordance with established office operating procedures that are consistent with these rules.  2)  Records shall be destroyed only in the ordinary course of business according to established office operating procedures that are consistent with these rules.  3)  Records may be destroyed by burning, shredding, or other effective methods in keeping with the confidential nature of records.  4)  When records are destroyed, the time, date and circumstances of the destruction shall be recorded and maintained for future reference.  The record of destruction need not list the individual patient dental records that were destroyed but shall be sufficient to identify which group of destroyed records contained a particular patient’s dental records.

Modern Practice Solutions recommends using as shredding company particularly if you are destroying old radiographs.  Retain your documentation with your HIPAA records.

If you need help with your office’s compliance program, contact Modern Practice Solutions today. (931) 232-7738.  We offer onsite and online training, risk assessments and policy development.


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