National Archives at St. Louis

Clinical (Hospital Inpatient) Records - for former Active Duty Personnel

If you ARE the veteran, next-of-kin*, or person of record If you are NOT the veteran, next-of-kin, or person of record

*Next-of-kin is defined as the un-remarried widow or widower, son, daughter, father, mother, brother or sister of the deceased veteran

What is a Clinical Record?

Clinical (hospital inpatient) records are compiled when active duty members are actually hospitalized while in the service. An overnight stay or admission generally makes a patient an inpatient. Information concerning "outpatient" Health Records

Clinical Records Holdings:

Prior to 1960, clinical records of Army and Air Force personnel were filed with the Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). Since 1960, the NPRC has maintained these records in bulk accessions retired annually by the creating hospital, rather than with the individual personnel file. Navy clinical records have always been retired and maintained in this manner. Therefore, clinical records, with the exception of Army and Air Force records received prior to 1960, are filed by the name of the hospital in which the service member was treated. As such, the NPRC needs the name of the hospital, month (if known) and year of treatment, as well as the veteran's name and Social Security or service number to locate these clinical records.

Army and Air Force Hospitals retain their records for one calendar year and Navy Hospitals retain their records for two calendar years before retirement to the NPRC. Teaching hospitals that maintain Clinical Record Libraries may retain records up to 5 years before retirement.

The 1973 Fire and Clinical Records:

As the clinical records for Army and Air Force personnel, prior to 1960, were filed with the OMPFs at the NPRC, many of the documents recording inpatient care for Army and Air Force veterans from this period were destroyed in the 1973 Fire.

However, hospitals with Clinical Record Libraries typically maintained records longer than hospitals without such libraries. Patients treated at military hospitals with such libraries (as early as 1951 for Air Force hospitals and 1957 for Army hospitals) may have clinical records that were not filed in the OMPF. Records for Army and Air Force hospitals that fall within that time frame may still be available, even if the service member's OMPF was destroyed in the NPRC 1973 fire. Click on Clinical Record Libraries for a list of these Army and Air Force facilities.

There are also small, scattered collections of records from years earlier than those listed above, and some alternate medical records sources for the fire-related period as defined below.

Medical Related Alternate Records: The NPRC has identified some medical-related alternate records that have proved useful in reconstructing information lost in the 1973 fire. Documents that provide information about diagnosis and prognosis, however, are limited and the sources are not comprehensive. Nevertheless, the NPRC does utilize approximately 7.8 million hospital admission abstracts to obtain supplementary information. Most of the records in this supplementary file pertain to active duty Army and Army Air Corps personnel in service from 1942 to 1945 and active duty Army personnel who served between 1950 and 1954, although a small percentage pertains to veterans of the other services. This source does not cover all admissions during the related timeframes and has limited medical information. However, in certain cases, it can provide sufficient proof to support a claim.

General Information:

As currently scheduled, all medical treatment records are temporary (non-permanent) records. However, any medical records of former active duty personnel filed with the Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) are considered part of that record and are maintained with it.

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