With the million and one things on doctors’ plates every day, you’d think management of their medical files wouldn’t be uppermost in their minds.
Yet some of the questions most commonly asked by Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) members relate to their clinical records.
When a doctor has hired a service provider to manage the storage of their clinical files, the physician is still responsible for maintaining security according to privacy legislation and College requirements, notes the CMPA.
If a commercial provider stores the records, some Canadian jurisdictions have health-specific privacy laws requiring doctors to sign a written agreement with the provider. And even if it’s not required, it’s still a good idea.
Most colleges require that physicians inform their patients as to where their records are stored and how they may be accessed.
Once the retention period (which differs from province to province) has expired, records should be destroyed in a way that protects confidentiality, advises the CMPA.
For paper records, shredding and pulverization are effective. Incineration is no longer acceptable for environmental reasons. To ensure security, effectiveness and compliance, it is recommended that a professional company manage the destruction of medical records. In the case of electronic records, permanent deletion or irreversible erasure are good bets. Doctors must consider whether it’s necessary to destroy the original along with copies and back-up files.
Since 1997, RSRS has assisted hundreds of physicians with their record storage obligations. RSRS is the only physician-managed, fully compliant storage facility in Canada and follows the guidelines for each Canadian province with respect to patient record retention.
Call RSRS today at 1-888-563-3732 or visit our site.