Dump Paper Patient Records – Use Mobile Medical Devices Protected With Alpha Thunder Tags
• San Diego, California – Medical records found dumped on Paradise Hill sidewalk – Feb. 29, 2016 10news.com
• Columbus, Ohio – Thousands of Medical Records Containing Confidential Info Found In Dumpster – December 1, 2015, 10tv.com
• Springfield, Ohio – Hospital notifies patients of records in Dumpster privacy breach – Jan 26,2016, Springfieldnewssun.com
• Richmond, Kentucky – 65 Boxes of Improperly Dumped Medical Records Discovered – June 2, 2015, HIPAA JOURNAL
• Coventry West Midlands England – Coventry hospital apologises after 24 patients’ medical records found dumped in city bin – 11 May 2016, coventrytelegraph.net
• Bournemouth, England – Confidential medical records found dumped in alleyway – 23 April 2016, bournemouthecho.co.uk
These are just a small sampling of headlines across the U.S. and even England demonstrating the careless handling of paper medical files and documents. In each of these stories, confidential patient information was exposed to potential criminal activity. In this day and age, it makes little sense why medical providers continue to use paper records rather than going to electronic record keeping. Many hospitals and medical offices have made the transition to mobile medical devices to maintain patient records, share medical data, review scans and x-rays with patients and conduct long distance consultations. One valid concern with mobile devices is the threat of i-pad theft or tablet theft. Compromise of patient information is a possibility if a device is stolen.
Alpha Thunder Tags can be attached to mobile medical devices in order to prevent i-pad theft or tablet theft and thereby minimize the possibility of data theft. Alpha Thunder Tags are small anti-theft devices that have an adhesive backing used to secure them to the item to be protected. The tags are radio frequency sensitive to activate electronic article system (EAS) antennas when in the range of the antennas. In other words, if a hospital or physician’s office has EAS antennas installed at all entrances and exits, anytime someone carries a mobile medical device near them, the antenna alarm will sound. Antennas also have LED lights that will flash when the alarm activates so employees can respond and recover devices that are leaving the building. Tamper protection built into the tag ensures that if someone tries to remove the tag an internal alarm in the protection device will sound.
Using paper medical records has several issues associated with them. Traditional patient files require a lot of space to maintain. As a practice grows or a hospital expands, increased patient load means increased information and if that information is in paper format, file cabinet space begins to take up space that should be used for staff or patients. Additionally, document security becomes a concern. It is easy to leave a patient file on a desk or counter and fail to properly secure it in a locked cabinet at the end of the day, leaving it exposed to potential theft. We can also see just from the very few cases cited above, disposal of old records or transport of records can lead to poor handling by staff or even contracted vendors who are supposed to destroy them properly.
Does this mean that e-records cannot have their own problems? Certainly not, the news is filled with incidents of hackers stealing information from major retail stores, private businesses and even government agencies. Medical providers must ensure they have proper data encryption and firewalls in place to prevent hacking from the outside. BUT, by using mobile medical devices the risk of unattended documents is eliminated. Old records in electronic format can be archived without having to transport them somewhere for destruction and no additional space is taken up due to new patients being admitted to a practice.
The possibility of medical tablet theft and i-pad theft should not prevent a medical provider from moving away from paper patient files to e-records. An EAS antenna system and Alpha Thunder Tags can protect mobile medical devices and allow a practice to enjoy the advantages of using digital resources to improve patient care.
Get more information on Alpha Thunder Tags, contact us or call 1.770.426.0547 today.