“Out of sight, out of mind” is never a practical medical records management strategy. At a minimum, purge shredding should be done on a routine basis to keep things under control. Staying on top of medical record management ensures patient information remains safe through proper storage and destruction.
To maintain compliance with federal and state requirements, TriHaz Solutions suggests our customers choose the beginning of the year for purge shredding to clean out old documents and records. If you have a high volume of records accumulating throughout the year, a routine scheduled service for medical records management is a better solution.
What Records You Must Keep and for How Long
Every medical facility needs a well-designed document retention and destruction policy, including a timely data and document disposal plan. Here’s why.
- To comply with HIPAA privacy and security rules, medical facilities must put appropriate safeguards in place that protect the privacy of protected health information (PHI) in any form. Under these regulations, you must retain medical records for six years from the date of their creation or last use, whichever occurs later.
- Alabama’s Data Breach Notification Act of 2018 includes a section covering the disposal of records that contain sensitive personally identifying information that says facilities must take reasonable measures to dispose of, or arrange for the disposal of, such records. Disposal includes shredding, erasing, or otherwise modifying the personal information in the records, making it unreadable or undecipherable through any reasonable means.
- The Alabama Board of Medical Examiners & Medical Licensure Commission of Alabama recommends retaining paper and electronic medical records for seven years, with a few exceptions noted. (Practices should also keep a record of the time, date, and circumstances of the destruction for at least four years.)
Because the risks and penalties that come with putting off this essential task can be steep, it’s vital your facility safeguard patient information by scheduling ongoing shredding services. Doing so helps you maintain HIPAA complaince, protect PHI, and meet regulatory timelines. Failure to meet these requirements can result in significant fines for non-compliance.
Lastly, every facility that generates medical waste must meet certain legal requirements related to its disposal. If your medical facility is audited and you’re unable to provide the required certificate of destruction and manifest proving all waste has been legally correctly disposed of, you could face substantial fines. That’s why we suggest any provider that generates medical waste conduct internal audits as part of its document management strategy so they can identify and correct problems before they become more difficult and expensive to resolve.
How to Get Started with Secure Document Destruction Services
The best way to ensure compliance with document disposal regulations is to designate someone at your facility to manage the process. If you’re uncertain how to get started, TriHaz Solutions offers a free consultation to help you put compliant processes and procedures in place. During the consultation, we’ll also help you determine what training your staff needs and how often they should revisit such training.
Our secure document destruction services follow NAID best practices and include:
- Scheduled shredding services that you can bundle with your existing regulated waste management services.
- Specialty shredding services such as complete x-ray and discarded pill bottles destruction.
- On-demand shredding or one-time cleanouts that thoroughly purge boxes, file cabinets, and other storage containers.
- Secure disposal of PHI documents.
- Hardware and media destruction that complies with HIPAA/HITECH regulations.
We also offer secure document storage cabinets and carts designed to handle all your facility’s highly sensitive document collection and storage needs.
If you’d like to learn more about staying ahead of the curve and controlling your facility’s risk exposure regarding medical records retention and destruction, contact us today. TriHaz offers easy and convenient scheduled shredding, on-demand shredding, and specialty shredding services trusted by medical practices, hospitals, and industries throughout the Southeast.
We can help you create a document management program tailored to your facility’s unique needs, ensuring you stay compliant with all regulatory standards.