Data Destruction for Health Service
Laws regarding data destruction in the healthcare industry are very strict and with good reason. Regular data destruction differs from data destruction for health service because of all the privacy practices that facilities must comply with. These facilities are responsible for protecting the privacy of thousands of patients. If there is a breach of security, then the healthcare facility could face hefty fines and a lawsuit. Securing documents in the healthcare field is something that must be taken very seriously.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
(HIPAA) and Data Destruction for Health Service
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is the main factor you have to consider when you opt for data destruction. In 1996, Bill Clinton signed the legislation which placed HIPAA laws into effect. This law regulates how a healthcare practice or insurance company handles private, sensitive information related to a patient.
The purpose of HIPAA was to modernize healthcare information. This ensured private information remained private. Keeping it safe and unsusceptible to fraud and theft while allowing information to flow between practitioners and health insurance companies.
The HIPAA compliancy also has an impact on how patient records are disposed of. This regulates the process of destruction ensuring the information does not get into the wrong hands.
Federal Record Retention Requirements
No one law exists regarding the record retention requirements in the U.S. Meaning there is not a static length of time you must keep documentation for every type of document. Instead, the law consists of various components that vary based on the type of facility and material.
Anyone who handles the data of their facility must understand the basics of his or her specialty and formulate a retention plan based on these regulations. If you handle this information and aren’t sure, you should research both state and federal regulations to remain compliant.
Patient information must be kept as long as it’s valid to provide continuous patient care, and any information related to a legal claim must remain on site until after all proceedings. However, how long a facility retains records after it’s no longer valid varies based on the type of facility.
Specifics for Facility Types
For instance, an abortion clinic must retain patient information for three years after the patient’s last appointment.
On the other hand, a rural health clinic must keep a patient’s records for six years after the last entry, as per the U.S. government. However, the clinic may need to keep the records for longer, depending on state regulations.
A tumor registry must store patient data for 75 years after the last activity date while a long-term care home, such as a nursing home, only needs to maintain patient records for five years after the patient’s discharge, unless state law determines otherwise.
Additionally, a long-term care facility only needs to keep the records for a minor for three years after the resident reaches legal age.
Specifics for Employees
Keep in mind that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an agency affiliated with the United States Department of Labor, has certain regulations regarding injuries and employee health information that differs from standard patient information.
This information needs to remain with the employer while the employee works for the company and an additional 30 years thereafter.
State Record Retention Requirements
As mentioned above, the state requirements differ from the federal government. Data Destruction serves Washington D.C., California, New York, and Texas, each one with unique rules regarding patient information. Moreover, each state must also take into consideration the federal regulations.
For example, in California, a facility must keep clinic records for at least seven years, except a facility only needs to keep a minor patient’s data for up to one year after the minor receives a discharge. X-rays should remain in the facility custody for at least seven years.
On the other hand, in New York, a clinic must retain the information for six years after the patient’s discharge or death. A clinic must keep the records of a minor for at least three years after the patient reaches 18.
Texas requires patient data to remain in a facility’s possession for five years after the service ended for an adult. The state requires the facility to keep a minor’s records for three years after the juvenile turns 18.
With all the variations in the laws, you can see how important it is to comply with all the laws set forth for your specific practice.
Issues With Record Retention
While HIPAA protects the information, a facility may face certain issues when storing the material.
Under HIPPA, a facility must store the personal information where unauthorized individuals can’t access it, so a facility may need to have one of the following implemented to protect the information:
- Locked cabinets
- Open shelves not in hallways
- Mechanical keys
- Keypad codes
- Swipe IDs
Unfortunately, the number of medical records quickly accumulate in these areas. However, information becomes irrelevant, or a patient may no longer visit the practice.
This issue poses a problem with a facility because they don’t have the room to store all of the documents, especially safely, hence the need for data destruction for health service.
Choosing Data Destruction for Health Service That You Can Trust
Above all, you need a company you know you can trust with your patient’s files, so you have a guarantee that those private documents remain private.
Impact of Medical Identity Theft
A medical facility stores highly personal information about a patient. If this personal information gets into the wrong hands, your patient is at risk for identity theft. The thief could use your patient’s name and insurance policy number to receive treatment for him or herself.
Medical documents sell for higher than financial information because medical identity theft is harder to track and more difficult to stop.
Not only could this harm the patient’s maximums on his or her insurance policy, but the theft could harm the patient’s credit score.
Another perspective to consider is that the information in the records may be something a patient doesn’t want to leak into the general public. The information may harm his or her chances of employment or maybe embarrassing.
For a patient, medical identity theft can cause a wide array of problems that are costly and time-consuming to solve, if he or she can solve the issues. Therefore, you need data destruction for health services that you can trust.
Process of Choosing a Trustworthy Company That Handles Data Destruction for Health Service
Most importantly, you want to evaluate the data destruction for health service companies in terms of their relationship with HIPAA. You should check to see if the company is a HIPAA Business Associate, meaning the company has an agreement to remain HIPAA compliant.
Secondly, a simple internet search for the company will provide you with reviews about whether the company has a known history of providing reliable service without any issues.
You also want to check the Better Business Bureau’s website for an overview of the company’s record.
Why Choose Us
Data Destruction has a history of providing reliable service. We firmly grasp the significance of your patients’ sensitive information. We also realize that you could be held accountable legally if the information got into the wrong hands.
We understand that your reputation is on the line when it comes to your patients’ records, and our reputation is on the line as well. That’s why we ensure you that any medical documentation you provide us for destruction is immediately destroyed.
We screen our employees thoroughly to further ensure the safety of the documents you provide us. Additionally, we use only practices that are legal and effective.
Medical documentation may pile and become a problem in terms of storage, but a data destruction company can help. With adherence to the law and taking into consideration HIPAA, you can rid your facility of all the unneeded paperwork, no matter how sensitive the information is.
If you need data destruction for health service, contact us today.