No agreement between or among Massage Therapists or between a Massage Therapist and other healthcare providers can supersede the individual Massage Therapist’s duty to a client with respect to the keeping of health records. The client records exist as a guide for the therapist as well as his or her associates or successors. Massage therapists when commencing employment, or entering into group practice should develop an agreement that explicitly covers procedures for record storage, covering the following situations:
- Termination of the employment, partnership or other agreement; or
- Closing, relocation or selling of the practice.
A Massage Therapist who terminates a relationship with a facility should decide if the health records will be stored by the facility or the Massage Therapist. If the facility is maintaining the original records, a copy of the records should be kept by the Massage Therapist or an agreement reached allowing the Massage Therapist access to the records as needed. If the Massage Therapist is keeping the client records, the facility should be provided with information on the Massage Therapist’s new practice location so that clients who wish to access their records can contact the Massage Therapist to do so. In addition, the Massage Therapist may write to the clients advising them who to contact to obtain a copy of their records.
Note: It is professional misconduct to abandon a client. For this reason, the College believes that the departing Massage Therapist has a responsibility to contact clients and notify them that he/she is leaving the practice. This may be done in person, by telephone or by letter. The purpose of this contact is to assist the client with the transfer of care to another provider, if necessary, and to advise them of how they can access their health record in the future.
Closing of a Practice
A Massage Therapist closing a practice due to retirement or relocation out of the area, should:
- Give clients as much notice as possible that the practice is closing;
- Assist clients with the transfer of their care to another provider;
- Advise them that the therapist is required to keep their records for 10 years, or as noted above if the client is less than 18 years old, and provide information on how they may obtain a copy of the record in the future. (the retiring Massage Therapist may store the records or may appoint a custodian who will store and monitor access to the records).Note: If the member has died, his or her estate may elect to store the records and respond to client requests for information, or may choose to transfer the records to another individual who will act as custodian.
Selling the Practice
A Massage Therapist should:
- Give clients as much notice as possible that the practice is being sold;
- Facilitate the transfer of care to the new practitioner or respect the client’s choice if they wish to choose a new practitioner not associated with the clinic;
- Advise the client of the arrangements that have been made for storage and access to the records and respect the client’s wishes if they want their record transferred to another provider.
Approved: November 25,1996 Revised: July 7, 2000
References: The Massage Therapy Act, Ontario Regulation 544/94, Part III, Records