Do you know how to protect medical documents? Medical information is sensitive and this private information should be accessed by authorized personnel only. Only those who have a legal and legitimate need can peruse our medical record. The government has gone to great lengths to protect this private information to the point that our personal medical information is protected by the law.
This is the reason why we expect institutions like hospitals, clinics, health insurance providers, and others with access to our personal medical information to safeguard this information with the utmost care. Doing otherwise makes them criminally liable, and this is the reason why records of patients are placed under lock and key in cabinets inside rooms that require clearance to access.
But this is just half of the efforts to protect our personal medical information. Half of the responsibility falls on ourselves and the people transporting these documents.
As a healthcare industry professional, leave your house or office with sensitive medical documents on hand, you are immediately putting people’s personal medical information at risk of being accessed or stolen by other people. This is especially true if you do not take any safety precautions.
Medical Document Security
When we think of valuable items to secure when traveling or when in transit, top of the list that comes to mind are items related to money (cash, ATM card, bank book, bank documents), expensive jewelry, expensive items (i.e. antiques, rare items, collectibles, etc.), mobile phones, tablets, or laptops. It makes sense. Thieves steal or loot because they need money or something that they can sell and make money out of. In the case of mobile phones, tablets, and laptops, you don’t just lose tech gadgets that cost money, but you also risk exposing personal information and personal items stored or saved in these gadgets to those who could use them for criminal, unethical, or illegal activities.
Seldom do we include medical documents and files containing personal medical and health information as a valuable item in our possession that needs to be secured. But we should. The moment you handle have printouts of valuable documents like medical records in our possession, you should prepare locking document bags in preparation for the eventuality that you will travel carrying these documents. The best way to transport these medical documents is by placing them inside a secure and locked bag. You can even have custom locking document bags to suit your specific needs. In particular, you should have a locking document bag that passes HIPAA regulations.
A locking document security HIPAA bag is ideal for medical documents because it adheres to the requirements set by the HIPAA regarding carrying, transporting, and protecting medical information and documents bearing these details.
What is HIPAA?
HIPAA is short for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. In a nutshell, HIPAA (among other things) protects the personal medical information of an individual by making sure those who handle it follow rules and regulations that ensure the information is safe, protected, and kept away from people who are not authorized to see/access it, thereby discouraging any potential criminal actions that could endanger the person whose information has been compromised.
Protecting Your Medical Documents
One may think that there is nothing in your medical records or personal medical and health information that others can use for their own benefit. This is wrong. Information, especially in this day and age, is very valuable. Violation of privacy in itself is already one manifestation of breaching basic human rights, but the threat does not stop there. Theft and fraud are real concerns since your medical and health information can be used in fraudulent activities. This can also be used for blackmail or to destroy your reputation. There are many other ways for your personal medical and health information to be exploited, and relying on the innate creativity and shrewdness of the human being, these criminals can unlock more new ways on how to make good use of stolen medical and health information.
What Medical Documents Should be Secured and Safe at All Times?
- Medical History Record – This is a veritable treasure trove of information. All the medical information that has been recorded can be found here. It does not matter if you were hospitalized in different hospitals; chances are, doctors will ask for copies of your medical record from the other hospitals that provided you medical care. This is standard so that doctors have a complete picture of your medical background and condition before proceeding with any medical intervention, from prescribing medicine to doing an operation.
- Medical Test – The results of your medical test is private and should be available only to you and the one that requested/required it (employer, school, etc.) Blood tests and urine tests are two examples of a medical test.
- Mental Status Examination – Many people seek the help of mental health professionals. Record and any other information resulting from this is private information. Unauthorized access puts the information and the person in danger. For example, a political candidate can potentially lose popularity if details of his or her mental health struggles in the past are revealed. Even if this is immaterial and irrelevant, some people may think differently and hold it against the person.
- Operative Report – This is a document that details whatever operation has been done to a person.
It is our responsibility to make sure our medical documents that contain our personal medical and health information are always secure and safe. The purpose of locking document bags is to contain these documents so that they aren’t easily accessed by those who are not authorized to do so. Even if there is no intention to illegally access this information, if, by chance, you accidentally left it somewhere, someone will be able to read your personal information simply because it is there, whereas a locking document bag could’ve prevented this casual and easy access to information.