Medical Record Shredding Guidelines in NY

If you are a medical professional or manage the records for patients at a medical service provider’s office, it’s important to know how to properly manage the files in your care. These documents contain all kinds of sensitive information about patients and their medical histories, which means you have a duty to properly retain, store, and shred them when the time comes.

How Long Do I Have to Retain Medical Records in New York?

The duration for medical record retention in New York is about 6 years, as determined by the New York State Department of Health and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

HIPAA only requires medical professionals and institutions to retain patient documentation for at least six years from when it was created or last used, whichever span of time is longer.

Policies determined by the NYS Department of Health are more specific. Doctors must maintain patient records for adult patients for at least six years. If the patient is a minor, the records must be kept for at least six years or until the minor turns 19, whichever span of time is longer.

If the patient is an adult discharged from a hospital, records must be retained for at least six years from the date of discharge. If the discharged patient is a minor, records must be kept for at least six years from the discharge date or for three years after the patient turns 18, whichever span of time is longer.

If a patient is deceased, doctors must retain their medical records for at least six years from the date of date.

How Should I Store My Patients’ Medical Records?

There are several different ways to store medical records for as long as is required by law. Offices with the physical storage space to retain physical files may do so, although converting them into electronic forms and storing them with encryption protection in a cloud or on a storage device is also acceptable.

Digitally scanning and archiving records may be the best way for businesses to retain records that are at the latter end of the required retention period, so as to optimize the use of physical space in the office.

If any files are infrequently accessed or put into long-term storage, it also helps to keep a log of which ones fall into these categories and the dates they were last used.

When Should I Shred Medical Records in New York?

You can only consider shredding a patient’s medical records once the required retention period has lapsed. After this time, it’s crucial to ensure that you properly destroy applicable patient records to prevent identity theft and unauthorized access to a patient’s private medical information.

Patient records that must be destroyed are those that have the following information on them:

  • Names
  • Addresses
  • Birthdates
  • Social Security Numbers
  • Medical history information
  • Medical test results
  • Vaccination records
  • Prescription medication information

If you are unsure if you can or should destroy a patient’s documents, it may be beneficial to review HIPAA’s Privacy and Security Rules.

How Should Medical Records Be Destroyed?

Medical records must be destroyed in a manner the information they contained can never be recovered. Commercial shredders like us at Acro Photo Print Inc. make use of sophisticated and secure shredding techniques that ensure documents can’t be pieced together after disposal.

HIPAA also provides that records can be burned and that any hard drive that has ever contained an encrypted file must be shredded upon disposal. Importantly, merely redacting medical records before disposal is not permitted.

Secure Data Destruction & Shredding Services

If you need to dispose of old medical records that contain sensitive information relevant to one or more patients, Acro Photo Print Inc. can offer the solutions you need. We can help you dispose of these documents – be they paper or hard drives – by shredding them in a manner consistent with HIPAA guidelines so that you can worry less about your liability.

If you want to learn more about our services, don’t hesitate to contact us online!