In New Jersey, a physician is required to maintain treatment records for seven years from the date of the most recent entry; however, questions always arise about how long a physician must retain medical records for a minor.
The State Board of Medical Examiners does not differentiate between minor and adult patients, and simply sets a seven-year retention requirement. However, in determining the retention period for a medical practice, it is essential to consider the Statute of Limitations for filing a medical malpractice action.
Medical malpractice actions must be commenced within two years from the date of the act or omission giving rise to the complaint, or two years from the date the injury was or reasonably should have been discovered. Under New Jersey law, except in cases resulting from birth injury, the statute of limitations begins to run on a minor’s 18th birthday. Any claim for malpractice based on birth injury must be filed by a minor’s 13th birthday.
Accordingly, a physician should maintain a minor’s complete medical record for two years after he or she reaches the age of 18 (as long as there are no mental incapacity issues) or seven years from the date of the most recent entry, whichever is longer.