HIPAA Compliance: A Guide to Medical Records Destruction in St. Petersburg
Medical records retention refers to the practice of securely storing patient charts and maintaining total confidentiality. It’s a sensitive process that involves adhering to HIPAA regulations, which protect patients’ medical information from being accessed by unauthorized individuals.
Healthcare facilities and providers are responsible for all aspects of medical records retention and destruction, including:
- Creating a record retention schedule
- Ensuring staff understands policies and procedures
- Managing the physical storage of records
- Maintaining security in case of fire or flood
- Handling requests to disclose records to patients or other parties
- Shredding old records properly once they reach the end of their legal retention period
Medical staff should keep detailed records on every patient who comes through their doors, but those same documents must be destroyed once they’re no longer needed.
Guidelines for Medical Records Destruction in St. Petersburg
The federal government has set out guidelines for how long certain medical records should be preserved. They cover everything from office visit notes to laboratory testing.
While these are only guidelines, they help provide a baseline for what must be kept and how long those documents should be retained. In addition to federal requirements, some states have stricter requirements that medical practices within their borders must also follow.
When to Destroy Medical Records
HIPAA’s rules for medical record destruction are straightforward. Your practice must keep medical records on file for either:
- Six years from the date of their creation, or
- Six years from the last use of the records
Record destruction is appropriate when the patient has not been seen for a sufficient period of time to determine whether the record retention period has expired.
How Should Medical Records Be Destroyed?
Entities should shred or incinerate all paper documents containing personal health information before disposing of them. They should also erase all electronic media containing personal health information before disposing of it.
Best Practices for Medical Records Retention
To minimize risk and ensure regulatory compliance, your practice should establish a centralized medical record storage system with written policies and procedures detailing the organization’s records retention plan.
There are also several important best practices that can help your organization run more smoothly and efficiently, such as designing filing systems that facilitate the retrieval of individual files and documents in a timely manner when needed for patient care or other purposes.
Contact QuickShred today to schedule your bulk shred. We also offer bulk shredding for computer hard drives and other electronic media. Our e-media bulk shredding service will destroy not only your old hard drives, but also your CDs, DVDs, floppy disks, and zip drives. We can even destroy backup tapes and flash drives, along with paper files.
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