Royal College of
Dental Surgeons of Ontario
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Frequently Asked Questions - Dental Recordkeeping

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    Are patients entitled to copies of their dental records? Can I provide copies of dental records to my patient’s new dentist? Can the patient pick up copies of their dental records or have them sent to their home? Can I give my patients their original dental radiographs or study models? Can I charge the patient for the release of dental records? Can a patient request copies of the dental records for his/her spouse and/or children? What would be considered a reasonable time frame for the release of dental records? Can I withhold the release of dental records because a patient did not settle his/her account? My associate is leaving the practice and some of my patients are asking for their dental records to be released to the associate at his/her new practice location. Do I have to release them? I have just received a request for copies of dental records from a denturist/independent dental hygienist. Do I have to provide them? Are there any circumstances where original dental records can be released? What happens if the request for patient records comes from a family member of a deceased patient? What happens if the request for patient records comes from the police? How long do dentists have to keep dental records? Who owns the patients’ dental records? What financial records must be retained for patients? How long should stone models be kept? Do dentists need to keep a drug register? After the record retention period has passed, how do dentists destroy the records that are no longer needed? When a dentist dies, what will happens to their patients’ dental records? Can dentists store archived records off-site? There was a flood/fire in my dental office and some of my patients’ dental records were damaged or destroyed. What do I have to do? Who should I notify if patient records are damaged or destroyed? A former patient of mine has requested copies of dental records, but I don’t know where they are. What should I do? A laptop or briefcase containing patients’ records has been stolen. What should I do? When a dental office is transitioning from paper records to electronic records, can existing paper records be scanned and destroyed? Can a dentist e-mail a patient’s radiographs and other records to the patient or to another dentist? Once the retention period has passed, how can electronic patient records be disposed in a manner that maintains confidentiality?