What to do With All That Paper
Since 2005, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse states that over half a billion personal records have been accidentally exposed in the United States. According to an article on Health Data Management’s website, Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth must notify over 200,000 patients due to a records management security breach. Microfiche records containing personal information for patients admitted to the hospital between 1980 and 1990 were found in a Dallas park. These records were said to have been destroyed.
So what do you do with documents, files, microfiche or films once they’ve been scanned? You have two options:
If you choose to store your documents, chances are you already have a system set up. However, if you use a document imaging service, they often have off-site storage options so these files do not take up space in your office or facility. Be aware that some states have laws regarding the storage and disposal of documents. Make sure that you are storing documents in accordance with your state’s regulations.
Since document storage should be a part of your document imaging plan, be sure to think about the end in the beginning of your document imaging project. You wouldn’t want to be stuck with cabinets full of paper files that are improperly or dangerously stored. Planning ahead will protect your business and the privacy of your clients.
Shredding documents is the way to go here. There are several mobile shredding services that offer secure disposal of your documents. However, you MUST use a service or vendor that you trust. Do your homework. Check up on their references and reviews before making a decision to avoid a mishap like the buried microfiche records. If you have the time and resources, visit the facility where destruction occurs. Require the company to provide a signed service agreement that explicitly outlines the specifics of your relationship. Once the process is complete, demand a certificate of destruction from the service provider. Again, planning ahead will save you and your customers the time and heartache involved in exposed personal information.
Another option is to shred the documents yourself. Remember, though, that there are laws and regulations that you must follow to ensure that your costumers’ information is safe and secure.
Storage or disposal, the decision is yours. However, to avoid a mistake like the one in Texas, make sure you thoroughly research any document imaging or shredding service you choose.