Please take a moment and look around you.
Do you see a shred bin close to you? Do you know where the shred bins are? Have you been instructed by you Supervisor or Manager on what is to be disposed in the shred bins? Shredding is a critical part of HIPAA Compliance. Leaving documents where others can retrieve them, even if your intentions are good is a serious, and common, violation of HIPAA.
Such was the case recently for a severe HIPAA Privacy Rule violation. In September 2008, Parkview Health Systems took custody of medical records pertaining to approximately 5,000 to 8,000 patients while assisting the retiring physician to transition her patients to new providers,
and while considering the possibility of purchasing some of the physician’s practice.
On June 4, 2009, Parkview employees, with notice that the physician was not at home, left 71 cardboard boxes of these medical records unattended and accessible to unauthorized persons on the driveway of the physician’s home, within 20 feet of the public road and a short distance away from a heavily trafficked public shopping venue. As a covered entity under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, Parkview must appropriately and reasonably safeguard all protected health
information in its possession, from the time it is acquired through its disposition.
Parkview cooperated with OCR throughout its investigation. On June 23, 2014, a settlement was reached. In addition to the $800,000 resolution amount, the settlement includes a corrective action plan requiring Parkview to revise their policies and procedures, train staff, and provide an implementation report to OCR. A card board box, full of patient information where the public could have retrieved it. Pretty expensive box!
“All too often we receive complaints of records being discarded, left unattended, or transferred in a manner that puts patient information at risk,” said Christina Heide, acting deputy director of health information privacy at OCR. “It is imperative that HIPAA covered entities and their business associates protect patient information during its transfer and disposal.”
Have you made sure that you have pre-shred documents placed securely? Do you leave information sitting out where others could see it, take it, or use it in a manner that is not intended? You may have a box near your desk where you put items that need to be shredded. Be diligent and make sure that those boxes aren't left for others to see. Empty it throughout the day.
The one thing no one needs is an $800,000 mistake wrapped in a card-board box.
Feed the shredder!
About ClaimCare, Inc.
ClaimCare Medical Billing Services stands out from the crowd of medical billing companies. ClaimCare offers a complete medical billing solution, has the only service level guarantee in the industry, offers best-of-breed technology, an air tight medical billing process, actionable reporting and broad experience and can work on its clients' medical billing systems. For more information contact ClaimCare Medical Billing Services by email at email@example.com , by phone at (877) 440-3044 or visit the ClaimCare Medical Billing Company website.
Copyright 2009, Carl Mays II and the ClaimCare Medical Billing Company