Good afternoon digger52-ga,
I have done a bit of digging and found that Dr. Michael J. Berson was
last reported working at:
Rockdale Surgical Center
1305 Milstead Road
North East Conyers, GA 30012
I contacted this office and spoke with Dawn, the records nurse. She
said Dr. Berson had indeed retired and that before he left the state,
he sent all is patients a letter advising them of his retirement and
stated that he would forward their medical records to their doctor of
choice. She has a list of records that she has left at the office.
Please give her a call to see if she might have yours.
In April, 2002, the Georgia State Legislature changed the law
requiring physicians to retain medical records for at least 7 years
and now requires physicians to keep medical records for no less than
10 years. However, it is my understanding in reading Section (B)(i)
below, that if Dr. Berson did indeed send you a correspondence
concerning his retirement and your medical records, he does not need
to retain those records for the 10 years required by law.
I. New Georgia Law on Retention of Medical Records.
(a)(1)(A) A provider having custody and control of any evaluation,
diagnosis, prognosis, laboratory report, or biopsy slide in a
patient?s record shall retain such item for a period of not less than
ten years from the date such item was created.
(B) The requirements of subparagraph (A) of this paragraph shall not apply to:
(i) An individual provider who has retired from or sold his or her
professional practice if such provider has notified the patient of
such retirement or sale and offered to provide such items in the
patient?s record or copies thereof to another provider of the
patient?s choice and, if the patient so requests, to the patient; or
(ii) A hospital which is an institution as defined in subparagraph (B)
of paragraph (1) of Code Section 31-7-1, which shall retain patient
records in accordance with rules and regulations for hospitals as
issued by the department pursuant to Code Section 31-7-2.
III. AMA Policy No. E-7.05 Retention of Medical Records.
Physicians have an obligation to retain patient records which may
reasonably be of value to a patient. The following guidelines are
offered to assist physicians in meeting their ethical and legal
(1) Medical considerations are the primary basis for deciding how long
to retain medical records. For example, operative notes and
chemotherapy records should always be part of the patient?s chart. In
deciding whether to keep certain parts of the record, an appropriate
criterion is whether a physician would want the information if he or
she were seeing the patient for the first time.
(2) If a particular record no longer needs to be kept for medical
reasons, the physician should check state laws to see if there is a
requirement that records be kept for a minimum length of time. Most
states will not have such a provision. If they do, it will be part of
the statutory code or state licensing board.
(3) In all cases, medical records should be kept for at least as long
as the length of time of the statute of limitations for medical
malpractice claims. The statute of limitations may be three or more
years, depending on the state law. State medical associations and
insurance carriers are the best resources for this information.
(4) Whatever the statute of limitations, a physician should measure
time from the last professional contact with the patient.
(5) If a patient is a minor, the statute of limitations for medical
malpractice claims may not apply until the patient reaches the age of
(6) Immunization records always must be kept.
(7) The records of any patient covered by Medicare or Medicaid must be
kept at least five years.
(8) In order to preserve confidentiality when discarding old records,
all documents should be destroyed.
(9) Before discarding old records, patients should be given an
opportunity to claim the records or have them sent to another
physician, if it is feasible to give them the opportunity. (Issued
Source: Medical Association of Georgia
Georgia law (O.C.G.A. Section 10-15-1) regulates the proper disposal
of [business] records that contain your personal information. The law
does not specify any particular method of disposal for items that
contain only your name, address and telephone number and no other
information. However, a business should properly dispose of any
documents that contain your fingerprints, photograph, Social Security
number, passport number, driver?s license number, personal
identification card number, date of birth, or medical or disability
information. In order to dispose of this material legally, a business
needs to do one of the following:
Shred your record before throwing it away;
Erase the personal information contained in your record before discarding it; or
Modify your record so that the personal information is unreadable.
Source: Governor?s Office of Consumers Affairs ? Georgia.gov
If the Rockdale Surgical Center retired your records pursuant to
section (B)(i) of the statute listed above or in compliance with
O.C.G.A. Section 10-15-1, I am afraid that you may never recover them.
As one whom once worked in the medical field, most doctors? offices
will shred their records.
I hope you find this information helpful. If this answer requires
further explanation, please request clarification before rating it,
and I'll be happy to look into this further.
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