Medical Document Shredding Guidelines and Processes
Medical records are similar to all other sensitive documents that are prone to attack and misuse by hackers and criminals. This data often contains confidential information about patients and their treatment. Therefore, these documents need to be kept safe and secure.
The best way to get rid of expired documents or data that is no longer in use is through document shredding. This process uses appropriate methods to dispose of data so that it becomes impossible for anyone to put it back together and access the content. This blog post will help you get an idea about several aspects of shredding medical documents.
The rules and regulations governing the disposal of medical documents in particular are much stricter than those regulating general document shredding in Houston. This is because these rules aim at protecting patients’ identities and other confidential information. Thus the government has issued clear guidelines and processes to prevent leaching and misuse of medical documents.
As you may know, protected health information, or PHI, includes information like a patient’s name, social security number, driver’s license number, treatment information, etc. According to regulations under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, all health care providers and clearing houses are prohibited from sharing or disclosing PHI under any circumstances. Besides this, there are provisions for financial incentives for strict compliance to the law. The law also includes hefty penalties such as fines or even imprisonment for breaching the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
The HIPAA Privacy Rule lays down specific guidelines regarding adequate storage and retention of medical documents. Medical institutions are required by law to retain documents until six years after the date of their creation. Certain data can be retained for shorter durations if the state laws permit institutions to do so. When medical documents are stored offsite, then their safety from both natural and human attacks should be safeguarded by the institutions.
Since the overall process of medical data handling involves storage, retention and disposal of the sensitive documents, they are susceptible to accidental and intentional mishandling and attacks. Thus the privacy rules ensure that the confidential data is destroyed completely so that it becomes impossible to read, decipher or reconstruct.
The HIPAA Privacy Rule protects medical data by requiring safeguards for document shredding so that medical records are disposed of safely and securely in the presence of witnesses and through proper channels followed by the shredding agencies. The shredding service providers should issue a certificate of destruction that clearly includes the date, time, place and unique serialized transaction number. This certificate helps greatly in future compliance audits.
For safe, HIPAA-compliant medical document shredding in Houston, contact Midcon Shredding.