For the healthcare industry, paper shredding is critical. Discover how Legal Shred provides a solution for HIPAA shredding requirements.
Every organization, in all industries, of all sizes, in all locations, needs to look at the information they have, identify all types and forms of personal and/or sensitive information, and then establish reasonable procedures to appropriately destroy the information. This is especially true for the healthcare industry. In fact, it’s the law.
Privacy laws like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) have increased enforcement and leave no room for error. Because of HIPAA, there is growing interest in effective and efficient ways to manage protected medical records, but more importantly, how to destroy them and render them useless once they are no longer needed. For the healthcare industry, paper shredding is essential to HIPAA compliance.
While HIPAA doesn’t specifically state how to shred or destroy old medical records, other agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services state:
“Thus, covered entities are not permitted to simply abandon PHI or dispose of it in dumpsters or other containers that are accessible by the public or other unauthorized persons. However, the Privacy and Security Rules do not require a particular disposal method. Covered entities must review their own circumstances to determine what steps are reasonable to safeguard PHI through disposal, and develop and implement policies and procedures to carry out those steps. In determining what is reasonable, covered entities should assess potential risks to patient privacy, as well as consider such issues as the form, type, and amount of PHI to be disposed. For instance, the disposal of certain types of PHI such as name, social security number, driver’s license number, debit or credit card number, diagnosis, treatment information, or other sensitive information may warrant more care due to the risk that inappropriate access to this information may result in identity theft, employment or other discrimination, or harm to an individual’s reputation.”
PHI refers to personal health information. HHS also states that “PHI in paper records, shredding, burning, pulping, or pulverizing the records so that PHI is rendered essentially unreadable, indecipherable, and otherwise cannot be reconstructed.”
There are plenty of safeguard measures that healthcare facilities can take to protect information. Healthcare offices should lock file cabinets that contain protected documents, and shred them prior to disposal. While an old trash bin or storage box certainly serves the purpose of containing paper waste, it’s not a secure solution. Any person can easily access the receptacle and fish through paperwork to steal social security numbers, addresses, health insurance information, and more. Legal Shred can help medical facilities keep documents secure prior to destruction with our selection of locked bins.
Electronic Media & Hard Drive Destruction
HIPAA laws also include electronic media, and calls for “final disposition of electronic protected health information and/or the hardware or electronic media on which it is stored” and to implement procedures for “removal of electronic protected health information from electronic media before the media are made available for re-use.”
Legal Shred also offers electronics and hard drive destruction services for healthcare facilities through the use of our shredders; this method works similarly to how we destroy paper documents, except it is the hard drive that is being shredded into unusable pieces. Data is impossible to retrieve once it has been pulverized.
Secure X-Ray Disposal
X-ray films also contain personal health information and require secure destruction. When at all possible, dental, medical and veterinary x-ray films should not be disposed of into the waste stream as it contains silver which is a heavy metal and contaminates the environment. In addition to paper shredding, Legal Shred can assist you with shredding and/or recycling x-ray films in a environmentally sensitive way. We can provide a HIPAA compliant certificate of destruction upon completion.
Medical Waste Disposal
Legal Shred also serves the medical industry in one other unique way: medical waste disposal. In partnership with our sister company, MedXwaste, Legal Shred is able to offer its clients a significant cost-savings through a combined services package, including paper shredding and medical waste disposal. Our packages include OSHA safety training, to help keep employees safe. Whether it’s HIPAA laws or OSHA requirements, our highly trained staff are prepared to help answer your questions, and create a package that works for your company.