Documentation destruction is a vital part of running any Atlanta doctor's office. Properly following that protocol ensures you're in full HIPAA compliance, and that's important for a number of reasons. Not only does it protect your doctor's office from fines or other punitive actions, but it also ensures your patients' private information is never stolen, shared, or compromised.
Why Document Destruction through Your Waste Management Company Matters to Atlanta-Based Doctors' Offices
What Is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was signed into law in 1996, and it essentially safeguards patients' medical documents, history, and information.
If your Atlanta doctor's office isn't taking proper precautions to adequately shred and dispose of documents that contain this sensitive information, you could find yourself (intentionally or unintentionally) committing HIPAA violations.
Because HIPAA is a federal law, it applies to all states. That means your Georgia office (and all other US clinics, offices, and hospitals) must comply.
Document Destruction: Is It Required for My Atlanta Doctor's Office?
It's not necessary to shred every single document that your doctor's office produces, but HIPAA does necessitate you shred any documents that contain sensitive, private patient information. That can include names, drugs patients are taking, and more.
If your employees have never encountered this regulation before or if they are at all confused about how to conduct themselves without committing a HIPAA violation, consider teaming up with a full-service waste management company. These companies can provide HIPAA OSHA training to ensure everyone is properly up to date on all the relevant OSHA rules.
Protocol for Waste Management Atlanta Companies That Offer Document Destruction
Many companies offer this service, so make sure your doctor's office chooses the one that's right for you.
- Work Locally
If there are ever any questions or issues, working locally means you can ask the company directly—even in person.
- Work with an Experienced Company
Because HIPAA noncompliance brings with it punitive action, you want to be absolutely sure your document-shredding company is experienced enough to follow all relevant Georgia and federal laws.
- Work with a Thorough Company
Patient confidentiality is no area to take chances. You put your doctor's office at risk, but you also compromise people's confidential information, which can have real and lasting effects.
Whatever Georgia waste management company handles your shredding, make sure they provide a locked cabinet for the sensitive papers while they await pickup. Everything should always be kept under lock and key until the actual shredding occurs. (This is typically done off-site.)
- Work with Flexible Company
If you need to dispose of a large number of sensitive documents, make sure your company can provide multiple cabinets and whatever else you need to easily, conveniently handle your destruction.
If you prefer to "purge" (that is, clean out mass quantities of documents every three to five years rather than doing this monthly), choose a company that can match those needs and scale with you if and when your needs change.
Can My Atlanta Office Do Its Own Shredding?
Legally, yes. If you want to shred your own documents, you will still be within the legal bounds of HIPAA.
However, when you factor in the time to have an employee complete this task, the hardware, and the electricity required, it is actually sometimes cheaper to have a third party complete this task.
You might still be wondering: What is HIPAA? What do I need to do to be in HIPAA compliance as it relates to document destruction? If you'd like more information on these topics, please feel free to reach out to MCF Environmental Services, a waste management Atlanta GA company.