Paper shredders are like shoes; a good fit is important.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) states that
patient information must be properly destroyed rather than simply discarded in
a waste basket. Shredding patient
records is the most effective way of fulfilling the HIPAA requirements and
ensuring that patient privacy is protected.
There are many things to consider when shopping for a
paper shredder for a medical practice, from the volume of documents to be destroyed
on a daily basis to an office’s workflow.
One can easily become overwhelmed by the range of models available. Choosing a paper shredder that meets the
day-to-day needs of your medical practice requires an understanding of the many
types of shedders and their features.
Most shredders come standard with the ability to
process staples, small paper clips and identification cards as well as a
reverse-feed function to clear paper jams.
These features come in handy for busy medical office personnel with
little time to spare on removing staples and paper clips. High-end models can include storage space for
shredders bags and blade cleaning materials as well as troubleshooting LED
indicator lights. Here are the basics
things you need to know and questions your need to answer to make the proper
Paper shredders fall into three basic categories:
personal, business and commercial-grade.
Personal models are compact in size for easy storage under a desk and
low in price (under $200). These basic
shredders generally have a 14 sheet capacity and are designed for minimal daily
use by an individual. More extensive use
will quickly wear out the motor, making these models a poor fit for most
medical practices. Personal shredders,
like hairdryers, are not designed for long-term use.
Most small-to-mid-sized medical practices require a
business shredder model. They can
process a heavier paper load (up to 40 sheets of paper at one time) and are
designed for more frequent use by several people. Larger in size than personal models, they
require placement in a more-centralized office location. Prices for these units vary widely, from $250
to $2,000 depending on their paper processing capacity and extra features such
as automatic shut-off.
Commercial shredders are designed to be a centralized
source for high-volume shredding. These
expensive units cost up to $10,000 and can process anywhere from 40 to 100
sheets of paper at one time.
cut shredders versus strip cut shredders?
A cross cut shredder is the best choice for irrevocably
destroying private medical records.
These machines will turn one sheet of paper into hundreds of
confetti-like pieces. They offer a
higher level of security than strip cut shredders, which shred paper in
am I shredding?
Shredders can be temperamental. Failing to precisely feed an 8 ½ inch sheet
of paper into an 8 ½ inch shredder opening can result in a paper jam. To save time trying to fit paper into the
opening or clearing a paper jam, consider purchasing a shredder with an opening
of 9 ½ or larger. For practices that
shred documents that are legal-sized or larger, a shredder with an opening
larger than 9 ½ inches would be easier to feed.
In addition to paper records, some medical offices that
have transitioned to electronic medical records systems store patient
information on CDs and DVDs. These
medical practices should consider a shredder with the ability to destroy these
much paper am I shredding daily?
Determining your office shredding capacity is the most
important criteria when selecting a shredder.
For a practice that shreds several hundred sheets of paper per day, a
larger model that can shred up to 40 sheets would be a good fit. Be sure not to underestimate how much you are
shredding, or how much you will shred in the future. Saving some money on smaller shredding
capacity with cost you more in the long run when you have to upgrade to a
is shredding? And
It is important to consider who is shredding sensitive
documents and where the shredding is occurring.
Records being shredded at the individual desks of 15 medical office
personnel will require smaller and less expensive models at each location
rather than one larger and more expensive model in a centralized office
location. But this could also prove to
be a security nightmare and put your practice at risk of HIPAA violations. A larger, centrally-located, business-sized
model can ensure that records marked for destruction remain private and
secure. It would also prevent patients
and other office visitors from mistakenly viewing personal health information
sitting on top of someone’s desk.
Unfortunately, shredding paper is a loud task. Keep the noise level in mind when selecting
what type of shredder(s) to buy and determining office placement.
Wojdyla is a Medical Records Expert at Amerifile, Inc. Amerifile is a
direct marketer of specialized office products including cabinets, folders,
dividers, labels and forms. Its
customers depend on its service and expertise to help them create, store,
maintain and retrieve medical records.
For more information, visit http://www.amerifile.net.