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Q&A: How long to keep explanation of benefits statements?

Q : How long are we required to keep explanations of benefits forms once the information is recorded into our computer system? Also, how long do we keep superbills and encounter forms after the information makes it to the computer for billing purposes?

A: There are two primary record types that exist in a medical practice—medical records and financial records. The former should be retained as long as there is professional liability exposure and the latter as long as there is IRS audit exposure. Superbills, encounter forms, and EOBs are not considered primary records of either category and can be destroyed after they are input into the billing system. Therefore, retention should be based on the business needs of the practice. For example, if the originals may be of help when following up on denied claims, it may be worthwhile to retain them for a year or so.

Send your practice management questions to
(please include your regular postal address). Answers to our readers' questions were provided by Robert C. Scroggins of Clayton L. Scroggins Associates in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Judy Bee of Practice Performance Group in La Jolla, California.

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