I cannot believe that we are less than one month away from the official end of Tax season. Tax season is a time, for me at least, where I have to gather all of my records from the past year and get them ready for review by my accountant. It is also a time when I say to myself "How long do I have to keep these old returns?". I think I can toss out my 1969 returns (I worked at a dairy that summer making ice cream with my best friend Andy for 75 cents an hour).
What does tax time have to do with our profession? Record retention, the age old question comes up all the time. "How long do I have to keep my sterilization records?". In fact it is not only the sterilization records but really all of the records we use each day.
In researching record retention AAMI/ ST 79 has in different parts of the standard this very general statement "The length of time that records must be retained varies throughout the country. Each Health care facility is responsible for determining its record-retention policy based on state and local regulations, legal considerations..."
CDC's Guidelines for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, 2008 (page 79) states the following; "...Sterilization records (mechanical, chemical, and biological) should be retained for a time period in compliance with standards (e.g., Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Facilities requests 3 years) and state and federal regulations..."
As you can see, just from these two sources, record retention looks like it needs to be specific to each heath care facility. In fact, risk management and the legal staff of each medical facility should be involved because some records might have a different time frame for retention. In my view, that is why we have such departments, they are the experts in their field just as we are when it comes to our various departments.
There is some light for us because of the internet and pdf storage abilities many medical facilities are now looking at going paperless and records are a lot easier to store and retrieve. In any case good luck with your taxes and I am going to toss out my 1969 taxes.