Anytime you go to a doctor’s office for the first time, they make you fill out paperwork. Lots of paperwork! One page will be information about you, including your name, address, phone number, social security number, insurance information, etc. Another one will be about HIPAA compliance. Yet another one will be who to contact in case of emergency. Some offices have more papers than others.
Everyone fills out these forms, but did you ever think about what happens to all that information? You should. What do they do with that personal information? Who has access to it? Can it get into the wrong hands? All legitimate questions with a myriad of answers.
All of that paperwork is kept for an extended period of time. Government regulations mandate that your doctor has to keep that information for at least 7 years after you are last seen at the office. The doctor also creates more paper for your chart. The staff at the doctor’s office is critical to your healthcare. Your chart is pulled and seen by a number of people you will never even meet. Some of the people that have access to, and will view your personal information, are nurses, receptionists, office managers, billing specialists, medical records clerks. Anytime you have lab work done, fill a prescription, see the doctor, or even call the office, more paper will be added to your chart and seen by multiple staff members. All that paper keeps adding up every time you do anything healthcare related.
After at least 7 years of inactivity, all that paper in the chart can be destroyed. If there are not many papers, this is usually done by a receptionist or medical records clerk by using a small paper shredder purchased at a local office supply store.
However, if the doctor’s office has a large amount of paper to shred, either because there are many paper charts that are more than 7 years old, or the doctor is converting the paper charts to digital format and inserting the information into their EMR. (Electronic Medical Record) The doctor might use an outside company that has an industrial size shredding machine. At Access Records Management, all of our shred bins are locked securely until they reach our facility. Our vans are equipped with GPS tracking systems and our drivers have passed extensive background checks. We are a woman and family owned and operated business in Kansas City, and we take our jobs very seriously. Once the paper is shredded you will not be able to put it back together, guaranteed. This shredded paper is compressed into a six foot long bale and recycled.
Everywhere you go and fill out paperwork in the healthcare field; your digital fingerprint is kept for an extended period of time. Doctors’ offices, labs, hospitals, clinics, chiropractor, dentist, physical therapist, the list goes on and on. The majority of healthcare offices are rule abiding professionals that conduct business correctly and are diligent about protecting you and your personal health information (PHI). Make sure that you trust not only your doctor but the employees that work for your doctor as well, that they will make the right decisions and keep your personal information safe and secure and away from the wrong hands.