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Establishing a More Secure Document Destruction Plan for Your Business

Every so often, a story comes along that makes you shake your head in disbelief. Recently, an $800,000 penalty was handed out by the Department of Health and Human Services to an Indiana healthcare provider for a HIPAA violation that involved the dumping of 71 boxes of medical records belonging to at least 5,000 patients in the driveway of a physician’s home. Egregious breaches of this sort are bound to get high profile attention, but in reality many smaller breaches go unnoticed, often not until someone’s identity has been stolen or bank account emptied. Luckily, examples like this one enable reflection, examination and the refining of internal processes for document destruction.

Make Sure Retention Policies Are Clear

It is important to be clear on how long your business needs to keep its document and files. Many organizations mistakenly keep all of their paper records for seven years, which may either be too long or not long enough. Specific regulatory obligations may apply to your business and offer defined document retention periods:

  • Sarbanes-Oxley
  • Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act
  • Georgia Senate Bill 425

Remember that the final disposition of documents you possess is part of your retention requirements. It is also wise to seek legal advice for more detailed retention advice. Any retention policy that has been established should be disseminated throughout your business.

Train Your Employees on What to Shred

Even with clear retention policies, there may be some ambiguity about what should be shredded. Confidential documents should never be left openly exposed at workstations or on desktops; even the seemingly innocuous sticky note left on a computer may contain sensitive information. Therefore, any duplicate paperwork containing the following information should be shredded on a daily basis:

  • Personal medical data
  • Social security numbers
  • Dates of birth
  • Credit card or bank account information

Additionally, don’t forget any documents that contain proprietary information that could be used to the advantage of competitors.

Exploring Alternative Shredding Options

Office shredders are often tedious machines to use. Shredding a file full of documents can take several minutes. Staples and paper clips have to be removed prior to shredding and only a few sheets of paper can be shredded at once. Paper jams are common and require immediate attention. These problems may actually inhibit shredding machine use in your business, with documents instead being tossed in trash cans or recycling bins in an effort to save time and stress.

A professional shredding solution incorporating shred collection containers helps establish regular disposal of day-to-day paperwork within your office. Employees simply deposit confidential documents into the locked container where all information is kept secure until collection. A professional shredding technician then arrives at your facility, scans a barcode on your container, and records its fill level. The container is emptied and either shredded on-site with a mobile shredding truck or is taken off-site for destruction at a shredding plant. You are presented with a Certificate of Destruction at the end of the shredding process.

Records Management Center provides businesses throughout Augusta, Evans, Thomson, and Martinez, GA, Aiken, SC and the Central Savannah River Area with professional shredding and destruction solutions. To find out more, please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.