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In this issue we will discuss the measures that medical organizations should be taking to prevent document exposure.
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For patients, confidentiality isn’t a privilege or a nice-to-have—it’s a right. With medical records containing everything from medical history to financial reports to personal contact information, ensuring that documents are stored and disposed of securely is of the utmost importance, both ethically and legally. In Canada, information collected by healthcare organizations on individuals is protected by PIPEDA – the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.
However, recent media reports have shown that patient record security needs to be improved. In June, about a dozen medical records were found left behind on the grounds of Victoria Hospital in London, Ontario. While these were eventually recovered, it is unknown how long they were left exposed, meaning that personal information remains at risk. A similar situation also occurred with 1,000 medical records in Regina, Saskatchewan.
These instances are becoming more and more common, leading to widespread feelings of concern. According to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, breaches are three times more likely to happen in a larger organization than in a small office—a fact that threatens not only confidentiality, but also the integrity of the medical community.
There are many causes of a potential confidentiality breach. Among them are:
In the recent Shred-it Information Security Tracker, responses from individuals working in the medical sector showed that:
The main way to prevent breaches from happening is to make document security a priority. While budgetary constraints or lack of knowledge may be a contributing factor to these lapses, the repercussions that result from a data breach are too damaging to ignore. Other options to consider include:
When it comes to disposing of documents, enacting a “shred all” policy can help ensure that unneeded papers are properly destroyed. Furthermore, Ontario’s Privacy Commissioner has stated that provincial institutions are required to either properly archive or destroy personal documents, and that disposal must be done through a cross-cut shredding method.
Using the cross-cut method of shredding, Shred-it’s procedures make it nearly impossible to piece together the information once it has been shredded. Furthermore, Shred-it also destroys hard drives, meaning that medical records that are stored electronically can also be erased safely and efficiently. Customers also have the option of watching the process from inside the truck, making sure it’s secure.
To conduct your own security self-assessment, Shred-it has developed a survey to help businesses better understand security gaps at the following link:
To learn more about Shred-it services or to book your FREE security risk assessment, visit, http://www.shredit.com
You can also visit Shred-it on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @Shredit.
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