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 An outdated health record is of limited use when you need immediate medical care.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.

Continue Learning about Managing Your Medical Records

Smart Ways to Use Your Medical Records
Smart Ways to Use Your Medical Records
The same law that protects the privacy of your medical records, known as HIPAA, also gives you access to your medical records. That means you can requ...
Read More
Why should I share my child's medical information with his or her school?
The Medical Center of AuroraThe Medical Center of Aurora
If your child has allergies (food, latex or beestings, for example) or physical limitations (such as...
More Answers
What is a good way to keep track of my personal health records?
ONC Consumer eHealth & Blue ButtonONC Consumer eHealth & Blue Button
Keeping track of medical records can be difficult if your health information is in multiple places o...
More Answers
What Are Some Body Numbers I Should Know About Myself?
What Are Some Body Numbers I Should Know About Myself?

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.