What Healthcare Organizations Should Consider When Choosing a Shredding Company
On December 22, 2023, HealthEC alerted Southeast Michigan patients regarding a potential exposure of their medical information due to a data breach. This incident marked the second breach within a few months, compromising sensitive details including names, addresses, Social Security numbers, medical records, diagnoses, and more. Such data is highly susceptible to identity theft, emphasizing the critical need for strict protection measures.
All Healthcare Organizations are Targets
Healthcare entities, regardless of their size or prominence, are increasingly vulnerable to data breaches. These breaches can occur through various avenues, including:
- Insider threats from employees
- Weak passwords
- Email or online phishing
- Physical theft
Each presents a substantial risk to patient confidentiality and privacy, necessitating proactive measures to safeguard sensitive information.
Strategies to Mitigate Risks
Among the varied risks, the physical theft of documents containing Personal Health Information (PHI) remains a significant concern. Mishandling or inadequate disposal of such documents increases the likelihood of a breach. Therefore, partnering with a reputable professional shredding company is crucial to protect healthcare organizations against potential breaches.
When assessing shredding services, there are several critical factors that healthcare entities should prioritize:
1. Trained and Certified Staff
A professional shredding company invests in highly trained staff, conducting thorough background checks and providing regular training sessions. This ensures compliance with stringent regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
HIPAA’s three main rules for protecting patient health information are:
- The Privacy Rule: Covered entities or associates must protect PHI
- The Security Rule: Electronic PHI (ePHI) created, used, received and maintained must be protected
- The Breach Notification Rule: Notification of a PHI breach must be provided to affected patients
Compliance with HIPAA’s Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules is non-negotiable. Failure to adhere to these laws increases the risk of data breaches and associated liabilities.
2. Secure Chain of Custody
Maintaining a secure chain of custody for PHI from creation to destruction is imperative for compliance. Engaging a certified shredding company guarantees the continuation of this secure chain. They provide a Certificate of Destruction, meticulously documenting compliance with privacy laws, including specific details such as dates, equipment used, and pertinent organization information.
3. NAID AAA Certification
Opting for a shredding company with NAID AAA Certification ensures adherence to stringent data protection standards. This certification involves rigorous audits by accredited security professionals, offering clients the assurance of the highest accountability and security standards.
Select the Right Shredding Partner
Healthcare organizations bear the legal responsibility for safeguarding sensitive information. Collaborating with a reputable shredding company like ShredPro Secure, which holds NAID AAA Certification, complies with HIPAA and other federal and state data privacy laws, and employs a meticulous chain of custody process, becomes crucial for ensuring compliance and data security.
The recent data breaches in the healthcare sector highlight the urgent need for stringent data protection measures. Partnering with a certified and reliable shredding company is a proactive step towards mitigating risks and ensuring the confidentiality and privacy of patient information.