HIPAA Rules About Patient Folders — Medical Filing Labels
According to HIPAA, What Can Be Placed on the Outside of Medical File Folders?
When you’re working in a medical office, patient confidentiality is critical. In addition to keeping your clients protected, this practice is required in order to keep up with medical regulations. And when you are upfront about the types of practices you’ve put in place to maintain privacy, it also gives patients more confidence in you as a healthcare provider.
Medical records must be kept in a consistent and reliable manner that will protect the rights of the patient. The Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA), passed in 1996 and put into effect in 2003 and 2004, guarantees that patients have certain rights regarding their privacy. These patient privacy rights are evident with forms that patients must sign at doctors’ offices and maintained through a series of strict regulations in regards to patient information.
However, HIPAA doesn’t only impact who can be told about a patient’s medical situation. In addition, it affects what information is put on medical file folders. If too much information is placed on the outside of a folder, then any other patient at the same office or clinic could potentially be made aware of private information about a person’s health. Because it violates the regulations stipulated by HIPAA, adding sensitive information to medical file labels displayed on the outside of folders can actually be illegal. That’s why it’s so important to limit details on a file’s exterior. If a folder is easily in view, there’s a risk that patient information could be divulged in a way that violates the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act.
Safe Information for Medical File Folders
The filing folders in a medical office should have only a few pieces of information on the outside. These folders should have the patient’s name, the patient number (a designated number that helps a patient be identified in a way other than merely the name) and the name of the clinic that the patient is visiting. This basic information helps to keep the records of a patient confidential since it keeps all other sensitive information safely hidden inside. At the same time, this still allows for a sufficient amount of details to be listed on the HIPAA labels and placed on medical charts so that the risk of confusing two like-named patients is eliminated.
In addition to the basic patient file folders design with the details described above, filing folders may have a red or a fluorescent sticker put on the outside to alert medical staff to allergies that a patient may suffer from. These types of medical alert stickers for charts can help prevent a doctor or nurse from overlooking information that is found inside of a medical file. Even though allergies should be listed in the file in red ink, it is easier to overlook one sheet in a thick file than a red or fluorescent medical filing label on the outside of a file folder. This safety precaution is permitted by HIPAA since it is so important in protecting a patient’s health when they are receiving medical care. One of the best ways to get the right stickers for medical filing is to simply order custom-printed labels and other medical chart labels for noting allergies and other medical alerts among your patients. We offer this service at The Supplies Shops to help you prioritize patient safety in your medical offices.
Storage Protocol for Medical Files
The Privacy Rights Clearing House indicates that paper files can be left out on a desktop as long as the label and other writing is turned away from other eyes in the office. When not in use, folders should either be left label side down or put in a chart holder in which names and other information can be turned away from public eyes. This is one of the key strategies for patient privacy to keep in mind when thinking about which rules apply when filing patient charts.
Although it is generally not possible to sue a doctor or nurse under violations of HIPAA laws themselves, most states allow these people to be sued through avenues other than HIPAA. While this potential for litigation is fairly limited, it is important that doctors’ offices and hospitals take great care to treat confidential patient information correctly to ensure that people who do not have the authority to examine patient records do not gain access, even accidentally.
When put into effect for larger medical practices in 2003 and smaller practices in 2004, HIPAA caused a great deal of concern in most medical professionals. Since that time, as HIPAA has become the law of the land, people have become accustomed to the limitations. In fact, most people (including patients and healthcare professionals alike) have come to appreciate the privacy protections of HIPAA that allow a person’s medical history to remain private if that is their choice. There are still daily activities that must be practiced in order to ensure that HIPAA is followed. But most of these things, such as limiting the information like medical file labels placed on the outside of a patient folder, have become a regular matter of how business is done.
The most basic filing supply is the file folder itself. If you need help finding the right folders for maintaining HIPAA standards, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at The Supplies Shops for help.