How Document Shredding Benefits Medical Practices
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Medical records have evolved considerably over the years. Many practices have updated to digital medical records while others are still using paper documents or a combination of both. Any practice that handles Protected Health Information (PHI) will benefit from the services of a professional shredding company.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires that medical information be protected and kept secure from creation to destruction. To maintain safe and secure patient information, HIPAA has created specific requirements for shredding medical documents.
Protection by Law
HIPAA protects PHI, whether it is verbal, digital, or hard copy. Medical practices that fail to comply with HIPAA can face fines, and individuals can face arrest. PHI includes, but is not limited to:
- Name, address, birthdate, or Social Security Number
- Medical condition
- Care records
- Means of payment
Generating Medical Information
Medical facilities generate huge amounts of paper every day. It is vital that every single sheet of paper with PHI is protected from being viewed by anyone unauthorized to do so. This protection must continue from the moment it is generated until it is completely destroyed. When any document with PHI reaches its retention date or is no longer needed, it must be completely destroyed. These documents include:
- Printouts of medical reports
- Handwritten notes about patients
- Any amount of personal health information
- Medical insurance claims
- Invoices and payment receipts
- Chart labels and patient bracelets with PHI
- Shipping labels
- Medication labels
These documents can’t just be recycled or discarded. Because your medical practice is responsible for the protection of a patient’s information for its entire lifecycle, partnering with a local, NAID AAA Certified shredding company can help you remain compliant with HIPAA requirements.
What a Reputable Shredding Company Should Offer
- Shredding Collection Container: A document that contains PHI can’t be left in the open or placed in a trash or recycling bin; it must be kept secure until it is shredded. A shredding company can supply locked shredding collection containers where documents and whole files can be deposited and kept until it can be destroyed.
- NAID AAA Certification: NAID is the standards-setting body for the information destruction industry. A NAID AAA Certified shredding company must adhere to the highest security standards in the industry and is regularly audited by an independent, third-party auditor to remain certified.
- Secure Shredding: You want to be sure that your documents remain protected right from your office to the shredder. A reputable shredding company can provide on-site mobile shredding so that your papers don’t leave your property before being shredded, maintaining a secure chain of custody. You can also observe the shredding process for added peace of mind.
- Scheduled Shredding: Working with a shredding company that can tailor a routine shredding schedule to your prevents documents from piling up for long periods of time.
- Certificate of Destruction: A reputable shredding company should be able to provide you with a Certificate of Destruction for your records as proof of compliance with HIPAA and other data privacy regulations in case of an audit.
- Recycling: Your practice is all about protecting the health of your patients, and part of that is protecting the environment we live in. Choose a shredding company that recycles 100% of their shredded paper. After all, each ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees, 9 barrels of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, and prevents 2,205 pounds of greenhouse gases from being released into our atmosphere.
CI Information Management provides HIPAA-compliant, NAID AAA Certified shredding and destruction services to medical practices in Southeastern and Central Washington state and Northeastern Oregon. No matter what size your practice is, we are here to help you. Just give us a call at 509-586-6090 or complete the form on this page to get in touch with one of our friendly shredding experts.