Medical Records Storage SystemsPosted on August 7, 2018
Every company, no matter what sort of business it deals in, needs to be concerned about the security of their confidential documents, but for the medical industry in particular, keeping records secure is of paramount importance. After decades in business, we consider ourselves experts on medical record storage systems.
Not only must medical records be kept secure, there are regulations regarding how long they must be kept and how they must be destroyed when the time comes.
Medical Records Storage
Depending on the province, physicians are typically required to keep medical records for a minimum of 10 years following the most recent entry, or from the time the patient reaches the age of majority, whichever is later. In British Columbia, that minimum is raised to 16 years.
A primary reason for the need to retain records this long is that a physician or that physician’s estate may need them in the event that medical-legal difficulties arise. For example, if a physician or their estate is sued over issues connected to their medical work, those records would provide the best evidence regarding the doctor’s interaction with their patient. Without such documents, the physician will only have their memory to rely upon, which may prove to be incorrect or incomplete.
The manner in which records are stored is important, with certain medical record storage systems not providing ample protection. Even electronic health records management is not always as secure as it could be, given that systems are typically built to allow anyone who works in a hospital to access virtually the entire record.
This means that not only doctors and nurses, but also admins or anyone else involved in patient care would have access to these records, and while the vast majority of them are entirely trustworthy, there may be individuals that, in the right circumstances, may make use of this private information for their own gain.
Identity Theft and Other Crimes
A major concern regarding the proper storage of medical records is identity theft.
While most people tend to be concerned about the theft of credit card information, the theft and sale of health records is equally or even more damaging, and in the US during 2016, there were nine times more medical than financial records breached. But what makes medical records such a valuable target?
There is a tremendous amount of information contained in your medical files, including your family history, insurance information, demographic data, lists of medications, and more. This all provides more than enough information to steal your identity and use it for financial fraud, medication fraud, insurance fraud, and a number of other potentially devastating crimes.
Additionally, there is also the possibility of sensitive information—such as a diagnosis of HIV, or behavioural issues—being used to engage in blackmail, such as when hackers gained access to the records of a London-based plastic surgery clinic that caters to celebrities. In this case, pictures and other information from celebrities, including royals, was stolen, with the hackers threatening to post it all online.
When the time comes for medical records to be disposed of, they should be marked for disposal and kept separate from all other records in a secure area. When they are destroyed, it must be done in a manner that prevents reconstruction of the document. For example, it is recommended that paper records be professionally destroyed. Electronic records must be permanently deleted from hard drives and other storage mechanisms. Hard drives must either be crushed, or a commercial disk-wiping utility must be engaged to wipe it clean. At the same time, back up copies must be destroyed with the originals.
Making the Right Choices
There are a number of medical record storage companies available to choose from, but BC Records Management Services understands how important the importance of keeping your documents secure and leads the way in protecting your sensitive information.
With our reliable and professional services, you can be sure that your documents are being handled correctly and securely. Contact us today to learn how we keep your documents safe.