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November 18, 2019

How Medical Providers Can Protect Sensitive Patient Data

These days, healthcare providers are entrusted with so much more than patient health and wellness. From personal identifying information to medical histories and medications, doctors and hospitals are expected to protect both patients and their personal data, which is why there are strict laws governing how long medical records can be held and how they can be disposed of. Today’s healthcare industry uses electronic records and complex tracking systems, making it easier to access patient information, but these advancements also create new risks for patient privacy and security breaches. Hospitals and medical facilities have to follow strict protocols to control the access, storage, and disposal of all protected health information.


Monitor where information is kept and who has access to it.

It’s important to have systems in place for managing where information is stored and how it is accessed. Paper files and documents containing medical information or patient data should be held in locked cabinets until they can be disposed of in secure shred bins. Digital files and hardware should be encrypted and password-protected, with more secure sub-networks available for more sensitive patient information. User identity and access should be strictly managed, with all electronic devices and records closely monitored. When replacing computers and electronic devices, secure hard drive shredding from a Delaware State permit holder and product destruction are essential.     


Don’t leave non-staff members or patients alone with access terminals/files.

Data breaches can happen when you least expect it. While it may seem obvious, one of the best practices for maintaining information security is to prevent unauthorized access at all times. Important paper files and documents should never be left unattended in no-secure areas, and hospital devices and computers should always be protected with identity and password verification. 


Use a paper shredding service for old medical records.

HIPAA requires medical records to be retained for six years from the date of last use, and individual states may require an even longer retention period (in Delaware, it’s seven years). When that period is up and the documents are no longer useful, shredding old medical records and x-ray films can prevent unauthorized access or accidental disclosure. When it’s time to toss outdated computer equipment, hard drives and digital storage devices should be securely destroyed using a hard drive shredding service to guarantee electronic files can’t be accessed. 

It’s important to protect patient health information by following all regulatory guidelines for the access, storage, and disposal of medical documents. Partnering with a secure medical document shredding service can make it convenient and easy! Together with MedPro Disposal, PROSHRED® Delaware provides a one-stop solution for medical and pharmaceutical waste disposal, information and data destruction, and compliance training. For more information on how you can protect patient health information, or to schedule one-time or recurring medical record shredding, call PROSHRED® Delaware at 302-433-6610 today!

In Delaware, doctors, medical facilities, and hospitals must retain x-ray films and records for a minimum of seven years from last use. 

After the mandatory retention period, medical offices are required to destroy paper and electronic records so completely that there’s no possibility that protected health information can be reconstructed. 

Partnering with a secure certified medical record shredding company protects doctors and their patients. 

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