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Medical Information Storage Methods

Published on August 7, 2018

Every company, no matter what type of business, must be concerned about the security of its confidential documents. Keeping records is of paramount importance, especially for the medical industry. After decades in business, we see ourselves as experts in medical record storage systems.

Not only must a medical record be kept, but it must also be regulated how long it should be kept and how it should be destroyed in due course.

Storage of medical records

Depending on the province, doctors usually have to keep medical records at least 10 years after their last entry or after reaching majority age (whichever is later). In British Columbia, this minimum is raised to 16 years.

A major reason for the need to keep records for so long is that a doctor or the doctor's estate may need them if medical or legal problems arise. For example, if a doctor or their estate is sued for problems related to their medical work, these records provide the best evidence of the doctor's interaction with his patient. Without such documents, the doctor can only rely on his memory, which can prove to be incorrect or incomplete.

The way in which records are saved is important because certain storage systems for medical records do not provide adequate protection. Even the electronic management of patient records is not always as secure as it could be because systems are usually designed so that anyone working in a hospital can access virtually the entire record.

This means that not only doctors and nurses, but also admins or other healthcare professionals have access to these records, and although the vast majority of them are completely trustworthy, there may be those who right circumstances can use this private information for themselves.

Identity theft and other crimes

Identity theft is an important concern for the proper storage of medical records.

While most people are concerned about the theft of credit card information, the theft and sale of health records is equally or even more damaging, and the United States had nine times more medical records than financial records in 2016. But what makes medical records such a valuable target?

Your medical records contain an enormous amount of information, including your family history, insurance information, demographics, medication lists, and more. All of this provides more than enough information to steal your identity and use it for financial fraud, drug fraud, insurance fraud, and a number of other potentially devastating crimes.

There is also a possibility that confidential information – such as diagnosing HIV or behavior problems – could be used for extortion, such as when hackers were given access to the records of a London-based plastic surgical clinic for celebrities. In this case, pictures and other information from celebrities, including royals, were stolen and the hackers threatened to put everything online.

Destruction of files

When it is time to dispose of medical records, they should be labeled for disposal and kept separate from all other records in a safe place. If they are destroyed, this must be done so that reconstruction of the document is prevented. For example, it is recommended that paper documents be shredded professionally. Electronic records must be permanently erased from hard drives and other storage mechanisms. Hard drives must either be shredded or deleted using a commercially available hard drive erase utility. At the same time, backup copies with the originals must be destroyed.

Making the right decisions

There are a number of providers of medical records storage, but BC Records Management Services understands the importance of document security and shows you how to protect your confidential information.

With our reliable and professional service, you can be sure that your documents will be handled correctly and securely. Contact us today to learn how we protect your documents.

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