If you work in the healthcare sector, you’ll understand how important it is to keep your clients’ medical records safe. But did you know that records of your interactions with patients can also help protect you in the event of a lawsuit?
In this post, we’ll take a quick look at why it’s important for you to safely store and destroy all medical records and the best practices for doing so.
Why Is It Important To Safely Store and Destroy Old Medical Records?
Before we get into the how let’s first take a look at the why. There are two main reasons why, as a healthcare professional, you must prioritize the safe storage and destruction of your records:
Protects the Client: this is perhaps the most obvious reason why you need to carefully manage your records. Medical patients are often required to disclose very sensitive information to healthcare providers. Because of the nature of this information, it’s only fair that they have the right to know that their healthcare provider will take the necessary steps to protect it.
Protects the Professional: according to the Canadian Medical Protective Association, it’s also a good idea for physicians and other medical care providers to keep records of their patient interactions in case they’re ever involved in a lawsuit. CMPA stresses that these records will often be the best evidence of your interactions with patients.
What’s the Best Way to Store Medical Records?
When storing your patient medical records, you need to make sure they’re secure. Here are a few ways you can do so:
- Keep hard-copy records in areas with restricted access.
- Use a secure storage cabinet with locks to store sensitive patient information.
- Make sure all electronic documents are password-protected.
- Ensure documents are put into storage as soon as possible (don’t leave them lying around the office.)
Of course, none of these methods are completely secure. There’s always the risk of losing data to things like fires and floods.
If you want to be 100% certain your documents are safe, your best option would be to store them off-site in a purpose-built storage facility. For example, Western Archives owns one of the largest document storage facilities in Edmonton.
Here, documents are kept under 24/7 surveillance so you can be confident they are protected at all times.
What’s the Best Way to Safely Destroy Medical Records?
You might be wondering how long you have to hold on to medical records before they can be destroyed. Well, according to the CMPA, the minimum requirement for storing patient information is 10 years from the date of last entry or 2 years from the time that the patient turns 18, whichever is longer.
After that, you’re free to destroy the records to free up some much-needed space! But how should you go about destroying medical records?
For paper copies, the best way is to shred the documents with a shredder that uses cross-cut technology. That way, it will be virtually impossible for the documents to be pieced back together.
And if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the mountain of documents you have in storage that need to be destroyed, don’t worry. Many shredding companies like Western Archives have mobile shredding trucks that can come right to your place of work to get the job done.
Need Help With Shredding or Storing Your Medical Records?
Whether you manage the documents for a health centre or a private practice, the team at Western Archive has the equipment and expertise you need to safely store or dispose of your important documents. They can handle paper shredding in Edmonton, Sherwood Park, Leduc, and many other areas across the province.
Contact them today to see how your business can benefit from their paper shredding and document destruction services!