I recently posted on documentation retention, and how long you should keep test/inspection records. A reader contacted me and said they attended a recent ASHE regional event where the speaker said the CMS K-Tags require some records to be kept for the life of the building, and the reader wanted to know if I was familiar with this requirement.
I said no, I was not, but I decided to get an answer direct from CMS themselves. I did receive a reply from CMS which is considered an informal non-public response, and here is a summary of what they said:
- CMS has not issued any formal policy on retention of records for LS test/inspections.
- Surveyors typically look back one (1) year to establish compliance.
- However, the extent of the record review would consider the frequency of a particular test/inspection requirement.
- If the test/inspection requirement was a monthly requirement, the surveyor may review 12-months’ worth of documentation to confirm compliance.
- If the test/inspection requirement was an annual requirement, then the surveyor may review 3-years’ worth of documentation to confirm compliance.
- In addition, retention of records would consider any NFPA, State, or manufacturer requirements.
It’s important to point out that there is a special requirement in NFPA 99-2012, section 126.96.36.199.1 that does require ‘permanent’ records of certain medical gas tests. Permanent would mean retention for the life of the building (or system), but section 188.8.131.52.1 only refers to initial system verification test records… not routine annual inspections. And it only applies to medical gas and vacuum systems, not other mechanical or electrical systems identified in NFPA 99.
CMS K-Tags 907 and 908 refer to a routine maintenance program and a test/inspection program for medical gas systems. These K-Tags says records are to be maintained as required. Since the K-Tags are a CMS product, they are obviously saying maintenance records and routine test/inspection records are to be kept long enough to establish a pattern of compliance. For annual test/inspection records, that would mean you must retain the records for 3-years, not necessarily for the life of the building.
Similarly, K-Tag 921 discusses a testing and maintenance program for electrical equipment, and it says records are maintained for a period of time to demonstrate compliance. This is consistent with the CMS informal comment that a ‘period of time’ would be 1-year for monthly requirements and 3-years for annual requirements.
Since accreditation organizations operate with the authority granted to them by CMS, it would be expected that the accreditation organizations would comply with the same requirements and informal policies as CMS.
But, I will fallback on what I believe: You should never throw away any records that demonstrate compliance with a regulatory requirement. That’s Brads opinion.