As a medical record review company handling large volume medical records related to personal injury, workers’ compensation and medical malpractice cases, we are often asked how we protect the confidential medical information. We are extremely sensitive regarding various regulations that affect the medical-legal industry and have a definite policy and training when it comes to ensuring confidentiality of patient data. The records entrusted to us are stored securely and access is provided only to authorized personnel. This question of confidentiality is a very significant one, and attorneys handling personal injury cases are also faced with the challenge of ensuring security for the medical records.
An Organized Document Management System Is Indispensable
In any legal practice, the greatest challenges are document management and time constraints. This underlines the importance of having an organized system. How does such a system help?
- Helps prevent the loss of important documents such as correspondence, pleadings, work product and other materials
- Helps save time and resources
- Protects the confidentiality of clients by restricting access to the files
- Reduces the risk of missed deadlines
- If the case has to be reassigned to another lawyer, it can be smoothly done
Based on firm size, resources, area of practice and other considerations, file management systems may vary from one law firm to another. Even so, the important thing to ensure is consistency. The overall structure of the file management system must surely be uniform across the firm, even while giving consideration to the specific requirements of individual practice areas/departments.
- Name the files consistently using an assigned number, client name or a combination of both
- Subdivisions contained in the file can be as follows, though various practice areas may include other distinctive, required subdivisions:
- Client information
- Medical records
- Attorney notes
Since attorney notes and other particular documents that are the firm’s sole property need not be returned to the client, these can be filed separately. There are some other factors to take into account when planning a successful file management system – control, access, storage and check-out procedures. The system will work fine only if you have in place detailed policies and instructions, and the staff members are trained in using the system.
The best way to protect the confidentiality of client records, including the medical records for review is by preventing unnecessary/unauthorized access. Other measures include:
- Do not leave sensitive client documents in conference rooms and public areas.
- Perform filing on a daily basis.
- Do not allow people unassociated with the firm to use the conference rooms or attorney offices before removing all client documents and files from these spaces.
- Do not release client information without first obtaining the client’s written consent as well as the concerned attorney’s authorization.
- Ensure that all computers and devices (including smartphones) used to access client files are password protected.
- Non-public personal information (NPPI) including account numbers, addresses, social security numbers, phone numbers and so on must be handled with extra care.
- Your scanner, copier and such other office equipment may contain confidential client information. Ensure that all such details are deleted before disposing of such equipment.
When considering the confidentiality factor, attorneys must ensure that their partnering services such as a medical record review company also have reliable security measures in place.