Medical Records Shredding Guidelines



The healthcare industry is constantly burdened with documents containing confidential patient information which require strict regulations to keep the information protected. However, even with some of the most stringent regulations put in place by HIPAA and other government-based institutions, data breaches are an all-too-familiar occurrence.

Proper disposal of old patient and employee records almost always involves a paper shredder. From large hospitals to small clinical practices, destruction of these files is crucial in order to keep the information from breaching out into the public and into criminal hands.

Medical Records Shredding Guide

Chances are, your medical practice is already managing and storing patient and employee records safely and in an organized manner. Whether these records are kept in filing cabinets and storage rooms or in an off-site storage facility, you should have a good idea of where to find a specific document based on when it was originally created or filed.

Shredding Regularly

CalendarA large part of managing these records is recognizing when their retention periods are up. The best way to minimize the risk of breaching any confidential data is to destroy these files utilizing a document destruction service, usually through a paper shredding company that provides a certificate of destruction.

After a certain amount of running a practice, retention periods will continually expire with the passage of time. Setting up a regular schedule to destroy these files en masse should be instated to keep your document shredding organized and on time.

Which Medical Records Need to be Shredded Immediately?

Any clerical errors and administrative mistakes with patient files should be thoroughly destroyed. Many times, if a mistake is made on a patient record, they will be shredded right on the spot to avoid this document from circulating. For larger institutions, a locked bin is kept on-site that collects papers to be picked up and shredded by a secure shredding company on a fixed schedule.

Transitioning to electronic health records (EHR) will also require the utilization of a shredding service, especially with the large volume of papers that will need to be shredded following a scanning process. All your information will be stored electronically, meaning your old, physical paper files are now all a potential risk for data breaches and identity thefts.

Medical Record Retention Guide (According to HIPAA)

Medical Record Type Retention Period
Diagnostic Images 5 years (after age of majority)
Disease Index 10 years
Fetal Heart Monitor Records 10 years (after age of majority)
Master Patient/Person Index Permanently
Operative Index 10 years
Patient Health Records 10 years after last use
Physician Index 10 years
Register of Births Permanently
Register of Deaths Permanently
Register of Surgical Procedures Permanently

Medical FilesOptions for Medical Record Shredding

A good strategy for securely disposing of medical records is keeping locked shred bins around the office to collect papers for shredding. A clerical error on some paperwork and other small mistakes can be safely stored for shredding without the worry of leaking this paperwork later on.

For larger shredding volumes, including past retention period or following a medical record scanning project, professional shredding companies are available to destroy thousands of papers securely and thoroughly.

There Are Two Main Options for Medical Shredding Projects:

Mobile Shredding Service

A mobile shredding service brings the shredding to your curbside with a mobile truck equipped with an industrial grade shredder. All your documents are shredded directly on-site while you or a qualified overseer witnesses the entire process to ensure proper destruction. The papers never come into any physical or visual contact with the professional shredding employees which adds an extra layer of security.

Offsite Shredding Service

For very large volumes of shredding (such as following a transition to electronic records) or for shredding done on a fixed schedule, the offsite shredding service is your best bet. Locked bins are kept at your location and picked up on scheduled dates to be transported in secure trucks at an offsite shredding facility.

Both options include a certificate of destruction which details the time and location of the document shredding to retain for your records.

Get Your Medical Shredding Done by Secure Professionals

With the scare of data breaches and identity thefts so prevalent, protecting your medical records and confidential information is a must. Shred Nations is partnered with secure shredding services all across the nation with decades of experience in proper document destruction and information security.

To get free, no-obligation quotes for medical shredding, give us call at (800) 747-3365 or use the form on the right. In just minutes, you’ll receive customized quotes for high-quality shredding services.