Disclaimer: This correspondence and discussion of this issue should not be construed as legal advice or representation by the TMA. It does not constitute an attorney-client relationship between you or any TMA employee. This unwarranted material is provided only for informational purposes. Should you require legal advice or representation, you should contact your personal attorney.

Shot records are physician/clinic specific. In other words, the physician or practice who administered the vaccines to you as a child is responsible for retaining and releasing the records to you. The physician or practice is only responsible for retaining and releasing the shots that you received at their facility. If you had child immunizations administered at various clinics/doctors then, in certain instances, you may have to contact each of them to obtain all of your childhood shot records. The Memphis and Shelby County Health Department will only have your immunization records on file if they administered them to you as a child. Neither the Health Department nor Memphis City Schools keep vast archives of childhood immunizations records, as many people are led to believe. Unlike most medical records that have a ten year retention time, childhood immunizations are to be retained / maintained indefinitely by the physician and/or the practice that administered the vaccines.

If the practice the physician was affiliated with is still operating, you should contact their office. Even though the doctor is no longer a member of their group, your records should still be on file with the facility. If the physician was in solo practice and another physician assumed his or her patient base when he or she retired or quit practice, then the physician who assumed the practice should have your medical records on file. If no one took over the practice, then the retiring physician should have the medical records stored / archived for a period of ten years (with exceptions – see the next question) after treatment. You may contact the physician directly, in writing. Please provide him or her with your name and the approximate timeframe you were under his or her care/supervision.

The Board of Medical Examiners (BME) stipulates a ten year retention of medical records from the physician’s or his supervisees’ last professional contact with the patient. There are certain exceptions that include:

  1. Immunization records shall be retained indefinitely.
  2. Medical records for incompetent patients shall be retained indefinitely.
  3. Mammography records shall be retained for at least (20) years.
  4. X-rays and radiographs shall be retained for at least four (4) years after which if there exist separate interpretive records thereof they may be destroyed.
  5. Medical records of minors shall be retained for a period of one (1) year after majority by minor or ten (10) years after the date from physician’s or his supervisees’ last professional contact with the patient whichever is longer.
  6. Notwithstanding the foregoing, no medical record involving services that are currently under dispute shall be destroyed until the dispute is resolved.

Physicians may not hold records “hostage” as a way of collecting treatment fees. The Board of Medical Examiners (BME) may suspend or revoke the licenses of physicians who violate this law or who refuse to release records for treatment fee collection purposes.

T.C.A. 63-2-101 requires physicians to furnish to a patient or a patient’s authorized representative a copy or summary of the patient’s medical record within ten (10) working days of a written request by the patient or such representative. Failure to comply with this law may result in disciplinary actions from the Board of Medical Examiners (BME).

T.C.A. 63-2-102 requires the party requesting the patient’s medical records to be responsible for the costs of copying and mailing such records. Reasonable costs shall not exceed twenty dollars ($20.00) for records forty pages or less in length, fifty cents per page for each page copied after the first five (5) pages and actual mailing costs if applicable. (Updated costs as of January 1, 2010)

State Board of Medical Examiners
Tennessee Department of Health
Office of Investigations
665 Mainstream Drive
2nd Floor, Suite 201
Nashville, TN 37243
[email protected]

No – On April 29, 2017 the TMA House of Delegates adopted Resolution 07-17 which removed the requirement that TMA, its component societies, or its Judicial Council conduct grievance (complaint) review against physicians filed by patients/citizens. The Resolution directs that staff refer any person wishing to make a complaint against a physician to the State Health Related Boards of Investigations Office. Any complaint against a physician should be directed to the Tennessee Department of Health, Health Related Boards’ Investigations Office. The toll free phone number is 1-800-852-2187. Complaints may also be mailed in using a form found at http://tn.gov/assets/entities/health/attachments/PH-3466.pdf