Best Practices for Terminal Digit Filing

Best Practices for Terminal Digit Filing

Paper doesn’t get the publicity these days, but maintaining current and legacy paper-based health records continues to be important to day-to-day HIM operations. Understanding how to file, retrieve, and maintain paper records—especially across multiple locations, such as offsite storage—remains a core function in many departments.

Most HIM departments file by terminal digits, which is the only way to keep files expanding at an even rate. In a terminal digit filing system the last two, three, or four digits of the file number are treated as a single number. Since all numbers in the file are sorted by their ending digits, each section contains approximately the same number of folders, so the file shelves are divided for easy expansion.

A new, free toolkit from AHIMA offers best practices in terminal digit filing. Managers can use the kit to train new or existing staff by having employees review the kit and complete the exercises.


  1. When it comes to medical records, what is the difference between the HIPPA LAW and the PRIVACY ACT?

  2. I am studying for my RHIT test and I am trying to remember everything I learned about filing.

    1. I’m right there with you Willie, good luck!

  3. I am also a student . I am studing this system as part of a medical data and coding class . I understand it just need to come with two papers on and an office isign for most of my grade …….HELP

  4. I am a student and am trying to understand filing completely. I want to ensure that I have mastered terminal digit filing so I can do an excellent job in the medical office.

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