Retiring from Private Practice (NZ)
Posted by Jane Hughes, Last modified by Sinclair Hughes on 24 June 2021 02:12 PM

You are probably already aware of the requirements from the Medical Council of New Zealand about managing patient records, but the relevant points are listed below:

  • How long patient records should be retained
    Doctors in private practice:
    a) Must retain health information for a minimum of 10 years and 1 day from the date of the last consultation with the patient.
    b) Should consider retaining the records for longer than the minimum 10-year and 1-day period in some situations. Examples
    include children with significant health problems, or patients with long-term medical conditions.

  • How patient records should be stored
    Patient records should be stored securely and away from public areas. They should be easy to retrieve when there are
    requests for copies.  Computer files must be protected by password and have backups in case of technical difficulties. You
    should access patient records only when there is an appropriate reason, for example, if that patient is under your care.

  • Leaving a practice or planning for retirement
    Well before you leave a practice or retire from it, you should:
    a) arrange with another doctor to accept responsibility for your patients’ records (for example, through a power of attorney)
    b) let your patients know if they need to collect their records from the practice
    c) inform the practitioners who have referred patients to you (if you are a specialist in private practice).

In addition to the above, you most retain your financial records for a minimum of 7 years.

If you are keeping a copy of the data, then you will need to ensure that this is backed up at the time you cease practice.  You need to ensure that this backup is in a format that can be recovered at a later date, if your hardware fails.  A cloud backup system is ideal for this.  Your IT people will be in a better position to advise.  You need to ensure that the SQL database files are properly backed up.  Some backups do not backup open files and may 'skip' the database files, as these are normally open.

If you have not arranged for another doctor to be responsible for your records, and you are keeping a copy of the data on a computer at home, the Incisive application will need to be installed on this computer, along with Microsoft SQL Express (for the database).  You will still have the same issues with Windows updates interfering with the Incisive program files, but we will ensure that you have the icon to re-register the program files.  In the event that your computer hardware fails and / or your upgrade your home computer, the Incisive application and database would need to be reinstalled on the new computer.  Occasionally updates to the operating system (Windows) may mean that some of the older program components will no longer work, and this may mean that you will require an (Incisive) update to be able to keep running the program.