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How long should I keep my medical records?

You should keep medical records for major medical events indefinitely. It's important to keep your medical records updated, especially with vaccinations, major illnesses and reactions to medications. An outdated health record is of limited use when you need immediate medical care. Always keep your health insurance information and contact number for your physician up-to-date.

It may prudent to hang onto medical bills for at least a year should there be a dispute over a reimbursement. Some experts recommend maintaining records for five years from the time that treatment of a condition ended.

Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna, in his Ask the AG column, recommends keeping medical bills for at least one year in case there’s a reimbursement dispute. Some experts suggest keeping other records for five years after the end of treatment. Be sure to shred — not just toss — anything with your personal information, such as your health insurance ID number, to help prevent medical identity theft by trash-picking crooks.

But keep your medical history and information on your prescriptions and on your health insurer’s policies on reimbursement, benefits and other questions.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.