How To Set Up Document Retention Schedules

Updated on October 15, 2020
How To Set Up Document Retention Schedules

There’s little that’s more sensitive than the details surrounding a person’s health. Patients want this information to stay between them and their doctor, and there are strict laws mandating this level of privacy. Among the many precautions that health care facilities take, retention schedules, which place a cap on how long a document stays with an office after services end, are the one measure that eliminates security risks for certain documents. At the end of a pre-set schedule, documents go through a shredding service, and staff wipe files from databases.

To further understand how to set up document retention schedules, read through these three pointers.

Create Universal Document Categories

To begin, you need to assign document classes to each type of paper you store in your office. These categories vary, but they must be mutually exclusive and encompass the full range of documents on hand. This affords you clarity about where everything goes and doesn’t allow anything to fall through the cracks. Based on their categories, some records will go to the archive, and some will stay in the office longer than others. These categories should also make sense across various departments to further prevent confusion.

Assess Laws & Determine Records’ Value To You

Before committing to a certain timeframe when setting up document retention schedules, know your state’s laws on document disposal to avoid a legal issue. In addition, as you determine how to classify something, ask yourself what the document’s value could be down the line. If it could serve you during a potential investigation, hold on to it. When there’s no clear reason to retain it, dispose of it rather than hanging on to it because you’re unsure. Enable your entire staff to make these judgment calls by training them on proper procedures.

Irrevocably Remove All Iterations On Time

When a document’s retention schedule comes to a close, don’t hesitate to dispose of it. Among several tips for disposing of old patients’ records is our advice to utilize an onsite shredding service for physical documents. When you go this route, you make certain that what you get rid of never has the chance to end up in the wrong hands.

Beyond physical papers, you should also make sure every digital iteration of a document goes through a permanent deletion process. Patient information is only 100 percent secure when both steps happen on time.