Importance of Secure Document Shredding in the Medical Industry


Identity theft has increased at almost exponential rates, to the point where around one in three individuals have fallen prey to it. However, the topic doesn’t just affect the average consumer, but can be devastating when it comes to businesses. This is especially important as it relates to the medical industry where you can have a combination of personal business and individual patient data at risk. Criminals will go to any length for fast and easy data access and using documents can be a favorite.

Sensitive documents that contain patient information needs to not only be shredded properly, but disposed of by a professional company. Most in-house shredders are not cross-cut and believe it or not, criminals will spend the time to piece the documents together. It may take months before your organization is aware of system data information breaches and by that time, your reputation and company may be destroyed.

Keeping patient data secure is part of the HIPAA requirements and each medical organization has to comply in a variety of technology steps. A 2014 study by BakerHostetler Privacy and Data Protection team indicated that 36% of incidents involving data security breaches were due to employee negligence. Also in this report was of the security lapses, not all of them involved electronic record cyber hacking. Paper records were involved in 21% of the cases. In a article the report also included:

“The report also makes clear that no industry is immune from threats to its sensitive information. Industries represented in the report include education, financial services, retail, insurance, technology, entertainment, hospitality and, in particular, healthcare sectors. While healthcare topped the chart of industries affected, that is due in part to strict data breach notification laws that all healthcare providers must follow.”

In conditions where the breach involved stolen credit card information, fines for reporting (or reporting too late) ranged from $5,000 to $50,000 per matter.

Although we may be in a net-based society, many areas of business still required printed documents. There is a requirement to incorporate risk analysis that covers all of the potential breach areas and take actions to make every attempt at prevention. From cybersecurity to document shredding and employee/staff education, each level will offer assistance at maintaining both patient and proprietary organizational data.

Relying on internal staff to shred important documents is no longer an option. It only takes one incident or mistake and the potential for a leak of patient data can catapult a health organization into a HIPAA and identity nightmare.  The cost of this kind of situation extends from reputation to cost and can be so high that even the best medical organization can go out of business. Additionally, the legal ramifications can be at an all-time high, as patients will have the ability to sue your organization for lack of responsible care of their personal information.

Making use of a professional company to shred and dispose of all of your documents is that extra step that can mean the difference in information breach and data security.

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