hipaa violation

How to Avoid a HIPAA Violation When Storing Records

Did you know that a HIPAA noncompliance fine can cost you tens of thousands of dollars?

If you’re a Fort Wayne healthcare professional or involved with the storage of sensitive patient information, knowing the ins and outs of HIPAA regulations is essential to keep you and your company out of legal trouble. 

But what’s the best way to avoid a HIPAA violation when storing patient records? Keep reading to find out.

What Is a HIPAA Violation?

HIPAA protects the private or sensitive information of patients. When you record patient information, it shouldn’t be accessible to anyone outside of the healthcare system (or health insurance system, if that’s your area of expertise) without expressed permission from the patient. 

When you leave documents somewhere that they’re easily accessible for people who aren’t supposed to see them, you’re putting yourself at risk of a HIPAA violation. 

When you have a HIPAA violation, your healthcare center is at risk of fines or worse. 

Do You Keep Digital Records? 

There’s been a push in the medical industry to make a change from physical to digital records. These documents aren’t stored anywhere that prying eyes can easily access, unlike traditional records, which may be stored around the office or in an accessible closet or drawer. 

That said, it’s still not impossible for someone to find digital records. Any kind of data breach will result in more damage than a rogue record being uncovered (though neither of these is ideal). 

Many people in the healthcare industry aren’t yet ready to switch to digital records, or they want to keep both digital and physical documents. 

How Can You Store Paper Records? 

If you choose to keep paper records alongside or instead of digital records, you need to know how to store them (and dispose of them) the right way.

It isn’t sustainable to store all of your physical records in your office. There’s only so much room, and organization becomes difficult when patients stack up. As we mentioned, you also put yourself at risk of a HIPAA violation if documents are improperly stored.

Disposal is also an issue. If you dispose of documents in such a way that they can still be read by someone who isn’t meant to read them, you’re still liable for that. 

It’s a good idea to invest in records management. Records management companies handle the storage space and security so you don’t have to in your own office. They also transport sensitive and confidential documents to and from the office safely.

When you’re ready to get rid of the documents that you no longer need, they make it easy to dispose of them. The documents are shredded into small strips, along with documents from other companies, making it impossible for anyone to be able to put documents back together. 

Don’t Risk a HIPAA Violation

Storing patient records puts you at risk of a HIPAA violation, but you can take steps to protect yourself and your healthcare center. By using professional storage solutions, the problem is taken out of your hands. 

You can get secure and accessible storage and disposal, so your patients’ information stays safe. 

Are you looking for the best document storage company around? We want to help you manage your records. Contact us with your questions so we can start working together.