A single file left open in a file room, a phone number and name written on a post-it note left on the desk, a receipt copy placed in the “trash” instead of recycling… All of these are simple examples of how an information breach could occur. In a day of HIPPA requirements and awareness, extra steps must be followed to ensure that the patient’s information is not placed in jeopardy.
This brings us to the question of what steps should be taken to ensure that medical documents are being handled properly and lowering the risk of a breach? What are the proper steps to ensure that policies are being followed and patient information is being protected.
Access policies – Strict guidelines of who should have access and handle patient documents is critical. Only staff that use the documents should have access to the information. Allowing everyone access will only increases risk of exposure.
Staff Training – Proper training of staff is a critical part of the document handling process. Many may take it for granted that individuals will simply “know” the process, causing a break-down in communication that can be easily resolved. Implementing a training program for the new hire regarding the handling of patient information and the expectation of how they should be handled and disposed of, can bring clarity and understanding to the expectation and the process. Keeping the entire staff up to date on policy changes and a refresher of current policy is always a great way to remind everyone of the importance and proper document handling.
Shred-All Policy – One great way to ensure that all confidential information is being disposed of properly is through a shred-all policy. This policy states that all documents of any kind are to be placed in a secured document destruction bin. Bonus – this is also environmentally friendly as the documents will be shred and the recycled!
Destruction bin placement – In order for any destruction plan to be successful, the destruction bins must be used. Encourage staff to follow the process by placing destruction bins in convenient locations throughout the facility.
We hope that you find this information helpful in managing your medical records and ensuring proper handling and disposal. If you have further questions regarding the destruction of your medical records, trust the one who is committed to keeping you and your patients protected.
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