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How Protected Are Your Patient Records?

Every doctor, be it big or small must have a record of their patients. The patient records are where the doctors store the various results, details regarding procedures, etc, that are confidential and cannot be revealed to anyone but the patient themselves. They are so confidential that, if they were to be exposed to an outsider, the doctor can be sued.

If the records are required as proof in some court proceedings, there must be a legal order asking the doctor to share it with the court, only then are the doctors at a liberty to share the details or specifics of the report. When such is the confidentiality, one must be very careful with these records and ensure they are always kept safe under lock and key.

Apart from the medical records which can reveal personal details regarding the health conditions of the patients, one can even gain access to their social security numbers, insurance plans, etc, which are worth a lot of money out on the streets. Such details are constantly stolen and sold for a profit to those who don’t have legitimate social security numbers or health insurance.

Keep Them Safe At All Times

It is very important to ensure all the patient records are kept safe and out of reach of others. Even cosmetic consultants require to protect the records of their patients. Not everyone would be happy if news of their visits to Kosmeticke Poradenstvi becomes public knowledge.

Here are a few tips to help you and your clinic ensure your patient records are not vulnerable to threat.

  • Always keep the records in a same place. When they are kept at different places, one tends to forget at times and hence leave it out at plain sight for others
  • Keep a designated draw or cabinet, with limited access. Ensure everyone on the staff can’t reach it and allow access only to one or two persons. This way, if there is a leak of information, it is easy to trace the source
  • Do not give out details to everyone who asks for it. One may portray themselves as the patient or relative of the patient and ask for the records. Have a strict policy against releasing data to such people. Ask for identification
  • Keep only new and required records at accessible limits, and store the rest away. This way, even if someone were to break in, they cannot get their hands on all the documents.
  • Do a periodical check to ensure all the records are in place. Most of such records are found to be missing at a later stage, making it impossible to track.

I walk by this office all the time and can’t help but think that they are only one smash-and-grab away from a public relations nightmare. This office’s patient charts are visible from the road – I can see patient’s names on the charts. A thief need only break that window and grab the charts for a quick profit on the street. Nationwide Insurance puts the street value of a medical record as $150. Social security numbers can also be sold. I wish this office would at least pull the blinds so we can’t see the charts from the road.













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About The Blog Author

Teresa Duncan received a degree of Master of Science in Healthcare Management from Marymount University. With over 22 years of healthcare experience (15 in dental), she has unique insight into the world of dentistry. Her specialty is helping dentists and managers increase revenue. By focusing on accounts receivable and insurance management, she helps dentists increase the value of their practice. As a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, she has a special interest in helping dentists identify and safeguard against employee embezzlement.

Teresa is founder and president of Odyssey Management.

She is a Fellow and Educator for the ICOI’s Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries. Look for more articles from her regarding practice management, dental implants and oral health care news. She was named 2010’s ADIA Educator of the Year.

Teresa is a member-at-large on the board of the Academy of Dental Management Consultants.

Teresa is a Trustee for the auxiliary education-focused DALE Foundation.


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