How to Save Yourself $800,000
Parkview Health System, a not-for-profit organization serving northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio, recently settled with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for $800,000 over an incident regarding improper document management. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently launched an investigation into Parkview Health System after receiving a complaint from a retiring physician alleging that the organization had violated the HIPAA Privacy Rule, after assisting the physician with the transition of her patients and subsequently, taking the documents of 5,000 to 8,000 patients into their custody.
On June 4, 2009, Parkview employees left 71 cardboard boxes of these medical records unattended and accessible to unauthorized persons on the driveway of the physician’s home, with knowledge that the physician was not home.
In addition to the $800,000 settlement, Parkview has agreed to a corrective action plan, which entails updating its privacy policies, providing training for employees on these policies and updating HHS with regards to the new policies.
California Department of Social Services Commits Major Faux Pas
On July 17, 2017, the California Department of Social Services witnessed a major breach in confidentiality when they were informed that confidential documents were accidentally discarded and removed from the office for disposal prior to shredding.
To qualify this grave error, the CDSS had to send out a letter to all those whose confidential information could have been leaked. As the documents were associated with children’s residential and senior care facilities in various countries of California, the CDSS also had to create an amended letter to children, as release of their confidential information is particularly exigent.
The CDSS is sure to be in hot water, as the documents most likely contained names, mailing addresses, dates of birth and Social Security Numbers. This incident surely could’ve been avoided if proper document transportation and disposal guidelines were followed.
The Importance of Third Party Reputability
Incredible amounts of paper medical records originating from Suburban Lung Associates, a Chicago-area healthcare provider, were discovered in a dumpster outside the building of FileFax, a Northbrook, Illinois, a records storage vendor hired by the practice to appropriately retain and dispose of the incredibly important records.
“Upon learning that some information about previous patients may have been compromised as a result of actions by a third-party vendor, we immediately began an active investigation,” a spokeswoman from Suburban Lung Associates says.
Suburban Lung Associates is currently working with local law enforcement to properly assess and investigate the incident and those responsible for such a grave error.
How to Save Yourself (and Your Company) from Starring in the Next Confidentiality Breach Horror Story
Hopefully, the aforementioned tales help to reiterate the importance of appropriate and effective document transportation and disposal. In order to properly protect the confidentiality of your patients and clients, it is important to find a third party that can destroy records and documents with integrity and assurance. Shred With Us has a history of customer satisfaction and compliance and will ensure that you and your company don’t end up as the subject(s) of the next document destruction nightmare!