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The Importance of Document Destruction in Healthcare



June 10, 2021



The Importance of Document Destruction in Healthcare

As per HIPAA regulations, every healthcare professional, employee, or agency is expected to comply with certain rules and regulations for Document Destruction in Healthcare. The rules in this regard are that all patient medical records should be destroyed or kept confidential and there should be a single person, who can act as a contractor for destruction of documents. There are various companies, which provide document shredding services for healthcare organizations. These companies are hired for the purpose of destroying patient medical records at a central location and keeping the information confidential. These documents may include diagnosis notes, medical treatments, medical reference materials, insurance documents, and any other records, which have a bearing on the privacy of the individual.

The HIPAA document shredding regulations were introduced so that the patient medical records could be maintained confidential. However, since people are moving offices and shifting careers frequently, it has become increasingly difficult to keep the medical records confidential. Hence, these records have been increasing in number. The large number of these records also create a lot of liability for healthcare organizations, as they are liable for keeping track of patients’ old records and make sure that these are not tampered with. The records also contain details of a doctor’s prescription drugs, blood types, health history, and any tests that have been conducted on the individual.

It is, therefore, important that an organization finds a suitable way or method of physically destroying the documents so that it cannot be copied or changed. Since most offices have standard operating procedures, it is important that these procedures are followed. The documentation destruction process should be able to destroy all documents in a completely safe manner.

There are different methods and systems of document disposal available. However, before an organization opts for records destruction, it is important that the documents maintain confidentiality. Most organizations opt for destruction of records after the last patient has left the hospital. However, there are healthcare companies that follow a policy of maintaining patient medical records indefinitely, so that these can still be retrieved if required.

These records are of great importance as far as patients are concerned. These include all information regarding the doctor, his treatment, medications, and procedures, and even laboratory test results. Since these records are a part of the patient’s medical history, the records should be destroyed as soon as possible. This helps the healthcare organization in maintaining accurate records and in protecting the interests of the patients.

There are different reasons why documentation is important. However, one of the main reasons is to maintain accurate documentation, which helps in maintaining the integrity and authenticity of a medical institution. Thus, it is important that a system for documentation is in place. It is advisable that the documents are destroyed as quickly as allowed by law and as soon as possible. If these documents are not destroyed, they can easily be recovered and altered.

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