The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) outlines requirements to prevent deleted medical records. However, there is still a chance medical records could be deleted. Keep reading to find out why this happens, and how American Retrieval supports your law firm or insurance agency in these circumstances.
Medical Records Stick Around
When you hire a company specializing in records retrieval like American Retrieval, you can feel confident knowing you’ll get the records you need in an efficient, time-saving manner. In the majority of cases, we’re able to find exactly what you’re looking for, not only because we’re experts in our field, but also because doctors and clinics keep records on file for years after a patient is seen. Still, there are rare cases where records get deleted, making it important to know what to do when you encounter this situation.
Why Do Medical Records Get Deleted?
Most of the time medical records are stored for a predetermined amount of time and cannot be deleted. Indeed, the rules for deleting medical records are governed by HIPAA, which grants patients the right to correct errors and make amendments to their medical records. A few details that can be changed include:
- Simple spelling mistakes or other typographical errors
- Outdated or incorrect contact information like addresses or phone numbers
- Errors regarding symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, prescriptions, or allergies
- Omitted or incomplete information that may influence future treatment or billing
Aside from these examples, anything that is correct and accurate on a medical record cannot be deleted. Usually, the only reason why records get deleted is because a specified period of time has passed since the patient was last seen. The amount of time varies state to state, but in most cases it’s 5 to 10 years.
How Medical Records Get Destroyed
The way medical records get destroyed depends on their format. In general, electronic medical records (EMRs) are never deleted because storing them is practical, safe, and affordable. Paper records may be destroyed by burning, shredding, pulping, or pulverizing. Microfilm or microfiche records can also be destroyed by pulverization or through recycling.
Why Can’t Deleted Medical Records Be Recovered?
Doctors and hospitals take lots of precautions when destroying records in order to be HIPAA compliant. This includes shredding, burning, pulping, or pulverizing the records until they are no longer readable and cannot be reconstructed.
Furthermore, some offices and hospitals may choose to deposit patient records in locked dumpsters that are only accessible to authorized individuals. Given all of these precautions, it’s fair to say that once medical records have been deleted, they’re gone for good and cannot be recovered.
What to Do About Deleted Medical Records
As a law firm or insurance agency, it can be frustrating to learn that the medical records you’ve requested from American Retrieval can’t be found. While we’re not able to recover deleted medical records, we can provide you with the next best thing.
After unsuccessfully contacting a provider to obtain records, American Retrieval will provide you with a document attesting to the fact that a medical records retrieval request was made, but that the medical records have been deleted.
Get the Medical Records You Need With American Retrieval
Since 1993, American Retrieval has been the top choice for law firms and insurance companies looking for quick and affordable medical records retrieval services. Our team is made up of experts who understand the ins and outs of medical records retrieval. That makes them uniquely qualified to handle even the most complex requests.
Contact us today and see how we can streamline your records requests, including those for deleted medical records.