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The Sensitive Issue of Handling Hard Copies

The Sensitive Issue of Handling Hard Copies

A question that comes up often is exactly how should a medical practice dispose of the hard copies of files? The answer isn’t rocket science, shredding is the only good answer. When you are ready to dispose of hard copies medical files, anything with a patient’s name on it should be shredded.

If you don’t have the staff available and you don’t want to invest in an industrial-sized shredder, a good alternative would be to hire an outside shredding service that will either come to your offices and shred on site; or pick up your files, lock and store them in sealed containers and put them on a closed end truck that is locked. Many of these companies will ask you to sign off on both the containers as well as the truck before they leave to get your documents shredded.

It may seem like taking extra steps but it eliminates the horror stories that you may have heard about such as boxes of patient medical files falling off open pick up truck beds or boxes of files simply left by dumpsters. Many physicians are now requiring that outside services only shred the documents on site.

If you don’t already have a shredding policy in your office, make sure to take the time to implement one and make every employee aware of it. You can further protect yourself by having your employees sign off that they understand the shredding policy and put that signed copy in their files.

This is another simple way to protect your practice from a simple mistake an employee could make regarding patient files. The more you educate your employees on good practices for keeping private information secure, the less likely your practice is to become a statistic for a patient privacy violation.

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