Medical Record Shredding, Saving and Correcting

Medical Record Shredding, Saving and Correcting

At some point in our lives, we all have visited a medical practitioner. Whether it’s for a well visit, sick visit, or an urgent care visit, medical intervention is one of life’s necessities. What does this have to do with document destruction? If you’ve been to a doctor, then somewhere a medical file exists with your personal information. Physicians and hospitals are required by law to retain your information for a specific amount of time, and while that varies by state, medical records management is on the list of priorities for health facilities everywhere, and that includes the safe handling and destruction of your information.

Did know that medical records are one of the primary targets for identity thieves? Fraudsters can steal your identity for a myriad of reasons, but in this instance, it’s usually to obtain health services or insurance. Just like your credit history, it’s important to keep track of your medical records, shredding any copies of them when they are no longer needed, or asking your provider how your information is being stored and destroyed.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act – also known as HIPAA – is the federal law that governs the protection of your health records. It contains provisions for accessibility ,and the general reliability and accuracy of your health-related paperwork.

HIPAA’s privacy rule does not include medical record retention requirements, choosing instead to defer to state laws to generally govern how long medical records are to be retained. However, the rule does require that covered entities apply appropriate administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to protect the privacy of medical records and other protected health information (PHI) for whatever period that such information is maintained by a covered entity, including through disposal.

HIPAA does, however, give control to the patient. Here are some of the ways HIPAA allows you to control your medical records:

Accessibility. You have the right to see copies of your medical records. Your health provider is obligated to show you the records within 30 days of your request, or ask for more time. Providers do have the opportunity to charge you for making copies. You should check your records periodically; if someone has impersonated you to get healthcare or insurance, there may be false information in your records, which could lead doctors to make bad decisions regarding your care.

Accuracy. You should make notes about any information on your medical records that looks incorrect. Providers aren’t obligated to change the data in question, but they are obligated to make a note that you requested the change.

Medical Record Shredding. HIPAA demands that doctors and insurance companies hire professional document shredding services to regularly dispose of any paperwork containing sensitive information. It also has provisions for protecting and deleting data stored on computers.

Maintaining your medical records might be the most important process that hardly anyone initiates. It’s something we should all be proactive about; health care providers and insurance companies won’t take the initiative to make sure your records are correct. Financial identity theft is easier to spot; a failed credit card application or a sudden decrease in a savings account are among the red flags. Medical identity theft carries greater risk: imagine being given a medicine you’re severely allergic to because your records fail to indicate the allergy. It’s that important.

Lack of file space and volumes of information are just a few of issues that create labor-intensive maintenance processes for retrieval of health records for hospitals and other medical facilities. It’s important that you stay on top of your medical information, where it’s stored, and ask how it is being destroyed for your own safety.

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