Storage & Shredding: Expert Advice

Safeguard = Compliance, we know the laws and protect our customers!

Posted by Sean Kelly on Wed, Jun 05, 2013 @ 04:32 PM

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Former Owners of Medical Billing Practice, Pathology Groups Agree to Pay $140,000 to Settle Claims that Patients’ Health Information was Disposed of at Georgetown Dump

Defendants Agree to Take Additional Steps to Prevent Future Data Security Violations

BOSTON – Former owners of a Marblehead-based medical billing practice and four pathology groups have agreed to collectively pay $140,000, settling allegations that sensitive medical records and confidential billing information for tens of thousands of Massachusetts patients were improperly disposed of at a public dump, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

The complaint, filed in Suffolk Superior Court along with consent judgments that were approved today, alleges that Joseph and Louise Gagnon, d/b/a Goldthwait Associates, violated state data security laws when they mishandled and improperly disposed of medical records containing personal information and protected health information from four Massachusetts pathology groups at the Georgetown Transfer Station. The medical records contained information for more than 67,000 residents including names, Social Security numbers, and medical diagnoses that were not redacted or destroyed when they were dumped. 

“Personal health information must be safeguarded as it passes from patients to doctors to medical billers and other third-party contractors,” AG Coakley said. “We believe this data breach put thousands of patients at risk, and it is the obligation of all parties involved to ensure that sensitive information is disposed of properly to prevent this from happening again.”

This matter came to the public’s attention in July 2010 when a Boston Globe photographer was disposing of his own trash at the Georgetown Transfer Station and observed a large mound of paper which, upon closer inspection, he determined were medical records. His discovery was first reported in the Globe shortly thereafter.

The other defendants involved in this settlement are Dr. Kevin Dole, former President of Chestnut Pathology Services, P.C.; Milford Pathology Associates, P.C.; Milton Pathology Associates, P.C.; and Pioneer Valley Pathology Associates, P.C.

The AG’s Office alleges that these pathology groups violated HIPAA regulations by failing to have appropriate safeguards in place to protect the personal information they provided to Goldthwait Associates, and violated state data security regulations by not taking reasonable steps to select and retain a service provider that would maintain appropriate security measures to protect such confidential information.

According to the complaint, the Gagnons ran Goldthwait Associates – which primarily provided medical billing services for pathology groups – and received sensitive medical records and billing information of clients in order to send medical bills on behalf of the groups. The Gagnons retired from Goldthwait Associates and the medical billing business in 2010.

Each of the four pathology groups and the Gagnons agreed to entry of consent judgments to resolve the AG’s allegations. Under the settlements, the defendants have agreed to pay a total of $140,000 for civil penalties, attorney fees, and a data protection fund to support efforts to improve the security and privacy of sensitive health and financial information in Massachusetts. 

The AG’s Office is focused on ensuring that health care practices and their business associates abide by the state and federal data privacy requirements. Recent efforts include the $750,000 settlement with South Shore Hospital in May 2012, resolving allegations that it failed to protect the personal and confidential health information of more than 800,000 patients. 

AG Coakley is also leading an educational effort in the area of data privacy. A first-of-its-kind data privacy training – sponsored jointly by the AG’s Office and the Massachusetts Medical Society – was held in October 2012 and focused on health care entities, including speakers from state and federal government and the private sector. A second training is being held this Thursday in cooperation with the Massachusetts Hospital Association.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Wendoly Ortiz Langlois of the Health Care Division and Shannon Choy-Seymour of the Consumer Protection Division.

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Safeguard = Compliance, we know the laws and protect our customers!

Posted by Sean Kelly on Wed, Jun 05, 2013 @ 04:22 PM

Former Owners of Medical Billing Practice, Pathology Groups Agree to Pay $140,000 to Settle Claims that Patients’ Health Information was Disposed of at Georgetown Dump

Defendants Agree to Take Additional Steps to Prevent Future Data Security Violations

BOSTON – Former owners of a Marblehead-based medical billing practice and four pathology groups have agreed to collectively pay $140,000, settling allegations that sensitive medical records and confidential billing information for tens of thousands of Massachusetts patients were improperly disposed of at a public dump, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

The complaint, filed in Suffolk Superior Court along with consent judgments that were approved today, alleges that Joseph and Louise Gagnon, d/b/a Goldthwait Associates, violated state data security laws when they mishandled and improperly disposed of medical records containing personal information and protected health information from four Massachusetts pathology groups at the Georgetown Transfer Station. The medical records contained information for more than 67,000 residents including names, Social Security numbers, and medical diagnoses that were not redacted or destroyed when they were dumped. 

“Personal health information must be safeguarded as it passes from patients to doctors to medical billers and other third-party contractors,” AG Coakley said. “We believe this data breach put thousands of patients at risk, and it is the obligation of all parties involved to ensure that sensitive information is disposed of properly to prevent this from happening again.”

This matter came to the public’s attention in July 2010 when a Boston Globe photographer was disposing of his own trash at the Georgetown Transfer Station and observed a large mound of paper which, upon closer inspection, he determined were medical records. His discovery was first reported in the Globe shortly thereafter.

The other defendants involved in this settlement are Dr. Kevin Dole, former President of Chestnut Pathology Services, P.C.; Milford Pathology Associates, P.C.; Milton Pathology Associates, P.C.; and Pioneer Valley Pathology Associates, P.C.

The AG’s Office alleges that these pathology groups violated HIPAA regulations by failing to have appropriate safeguards in place to protect the personal information they provided to Goldthwait Associates, and violated state data security regulations by not taking reasonable steps to select and retain a service provider that would maintain appropriate security measures to protect such confidential information.

According to the complaint, the Gagnons ran Goldthwait Associates – which primarily provided medical billing services for pathology groups – and received sensitive medical records and billing information of clients in order to send medical bills on behalf of the groups. The Gagnons retired from Goldthwait Associates and the medical billing business in 2010.

Each of the four pathology groups and the Gagnons agreed to entry of consent judgments to resolve the AG’s allegations. Under the settlements, the defendants have agreed to pay a total of $140,000 for civil penalties, attorney fees, and a data protection fund to support efforts to improve the security and privacy of sensitive health and financial information in Massachusetts. 

The AG’s Office is focused on ensuring that health care practices and their business associates abide by the state and federal data privacy requirements. Recent efforts include the $750,000 settlement with South Shore Hospital in May 2012, resolving allegations that it failed to protect the personal and confidential health information of more than 800,000 patients. 

AG Coakley is also leading an educational effort in the area of data privacy. A first-of-its-kind data privacy training – sponsored jointly by the AG’s Office and the Massachusetts Medical Society – was held in October 2012 and focused on health care entities, including speakers from state and federal government and the private sector. A second training is being held this Thursday in cooperation with the Massachusetts Hospital Association.

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Wendoly Ortiz Langlois of the Health Care Division and Shannon Choy-Seymour of the Consumer Protection Division.

 

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Off-Site Vs. On-Site Shredding, What's the Real Deal?

Posted by Sean Kelly on Mon, Nov 19, 2012 @ 09:59 AM

One of the biggest changes to the shredding industry over the years is the appearance of the "Mobile Shredding Truck". Usually coming fully equipped with a shredder, tv monitor, and a big bad name, shredding trucks have their good qualities, but poor ones too. A lot of companies seem to enjoy the ability to view in "real time" the shredding of their documents. Unfortunately, what a lot of companies don't know is that on-site shredding can be performed by less than qualified staff and a less than qualified company.

Yes, you heard it right. Anyone with a cell phone, a one page website, and a truck can pass themselves off as a mobile shredding company. Are their services actually helping you become compliant with the laws? Do they have strict information security policies in place? What happens if the truck breaks down (like in the picture below). What is the level of security of the shredder that is being used in the truck? Some mobile shredding trucks have shown to actually let WHOLE CHECKS pass through, unshredder (proof is in the pudding, I mean picture, below). These are some things you need to question before electing to use a mobile shredding company.

Shredding security  How secure is your shredding operations
How comfortable would you feel if your
documents were shredded in that mobile truck?
 And then, ask yourself, how comfortable 
would you feel having a mobile shredding
truck shred your documents when the 
shredder lets WHOLE CHECKS pass through?

 

Off-site shredding is done by a shredding company who has a warehouse (real estate), an industrial shredder, and a bonded and insured warehouse staff, at the very least. Usually, a company that performs off-site shredding also offers and performs other records management related services and they hold certifications and memberships in order to do so, adding to their legitimacy.

I like the analogy of likening an off-site shredding company to a bank. You give the bank your money but you don't see them put it in the vault, so how do you know it is safe and will be there when you need it? Because a bank is insured. With a bonded and insured shredding company, you have the same circumstances. You don't need to watch the shredding be performed to know that your document will be securely and properly disposed of due to associations like NAID, the National Association of Information Destruction. NAID is the association that verifies and puts their "stamp of approval" on those companies who follow the highest security measures in their shredding operations. 

We aren't saying that you should not use a mobile shredding company (but you really shouldn't!) but what we are saying is, we don't think this mobile shredding trend is here to stay. What do you think? Feel free to leave you comments in the box below...

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Never Want to Have to Spring Clean your Documents Again?

Posted by Sean Kelly on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 @ 03:00 PM

grassIt's that time of year again, time for spring cleaning. Usually most people spend daunting days and countless hours organizing their documents every year, but we think that should change. Instead of having everything pile up each year waiting to steal your precious spring days away from you to organize it all, why not implement a plan, a document organization plan, that would allow you to never have to waste spring days again??

We'll do you one better than just telling you that you should formulate a plan, we'll GIVE you the plan! And its SIMPLE! What could be better? If you follow our three-step plan, we know that these three steps will bring you closer to free spring days and futher away from docu-disaster.

Step 1: Digitize. When you come across important documents or files, scan them. Save them on a hard drive, disk, or flash drive. Ensure that these are all secure electronic storage methods by password protecting documents. If you can do this daily or even weekly and get into the habit of it, you will thank yourself in the long-run.

Step 2: Decide. So you've digitized important files. Now you need to decide whether or not the document should have a hard copy stored or if the document is safe to be securely shredded.

Step3: DO! Once you have decided to either store the documents or shred the documents, DO IT!

Having a certified and secure document shredding and archiving vendor can not only help to save you time in that you don't have to shred the documents yourself and office space in not having to store your documents on-site, but a vendor makes it easy to get in the habit of storing and shredding. If you have a box of documents you need to add to your storage account, just give them a call and they should be able to retrieve your box, barcode it, add it to your inventory, and securely store it for you.  They should also be able to deliver any documents or files to you upon request. A vendor that stores your documents as well as shreds them is a blessing. Usually, a vendor can provide you with locked, slit-top shredding bins or console that can be placed in your office that you can place sensitive documents into whenever you come across them. Change out of full bin or console for an empty one is just a phone call away.

So now you've got a plan. Give us a call and lets get started!

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Records Management that Doubles as Risk Management

Posted by Arielle Burdulis on Mon, Mar 19, 2012 @ 01:19 PM

Have you made sure your data is safe? If not, there is a chance it will cost you financially. It could ruin your reputation as well.

In a recent news story, MetLife, headquartered in New York City, whose revenues topped $50 million in 2008, felt the effect of laws involving data storage security. Because they failed to use records management as risk management, they were fined $70,000. Apparently, when they moved from one location to the next, they discarded a lot of trash in the dumpsters outside the office. In it were sensitive records containing social security numbers, addresses and financial account information of people who were current and former clients of MetLife. The hard copy files remained in dumpsters outside the building for well over three days. During this time, anyone could have acquired the information and used it for identity theft.

In North Carolina, a news article from 2010 about Prompt Med spoke of a $50,000 fine, from the urgent care unit having thrown into a dumpster sensitive information including financial accounts and identification numbers of over 700 patients. Records management as risk management would have clearly helped here.

The Carolina Center for Development and Rehabilitation was highlighted in this article for having illegally disposed of the financial information of nearly two thousand patients in 2011. The fine for this was $40,000. The senior officers had plenty of warning about records management as risk management from the above previous incidents, but did not learn from it.

More and more information these days must be secured and companies are having to treat records management as risk management. With the advent of identity theft, any written, electronic, or printed records must be protected if they include personal information about a client. And if the records are to be discarded for any reason, they must be destroyed in a proper fashion, so that the information contained within is kept safe. From this was born the idea of records management as risk management.

Risk management rpocedures are extremely important to implement to prevent Identity theft. Identity theft is any person's personal information being used by another to illegally remove money from bank accounts, acquire loans and passports and commit other crimes. Identity theft is now also known as identity fraud.

There are state and federal laws in place across the country to ensure that the destruction of certain files is done so properly, in order to prevent Identity theft. If proper measures are not take, then the company responsible for not following the precautions can be given some fairly big fines.

In Massachusetts, the laws that aid in the prevention of identity theft are called the General Law 93H and 93I, and are applicable to all companies in the state of Massachusetts secure all data that include personal information, such as bank account numbers, credit and debit card numbers, and the like that have the ability to create identity theft opportunities.  

In addition, each company must have safeguards, by the employment of valid identification systems, in order to keep non-authorized personnel from gaining access through computers, or in hard copy files. The company must also keep all locations safe from outside the company. On a regular basis, companies shall be audited to ensure they within compliance. According to the 93I, a company must document the policy of their destruction procedures.

The fines for non-compliance of 93H requires for the company to pay five thousand dollars for each record that was not kept safe. For 93I, the fine is one hundred dollars for each record, with a cap of fifty thousand dollars. These ordinances came into law in 2005.

In addition to state laws, The Federal FACTA Disposal Rule maintains any person or business using consumer reports must make sure all the information within those reports remain completely secure when discarded.

In summary,the risks that someone takes for improper document disposal are inexplicable. Primarily, risks cannot be taken anymore because it is the law to practice safe and secure document disposal, but secondly when there are a multitude of risk management strategies available through document shredding and management companies, how can someone not take advantage of a simple way to reduce risk?

Need to start managing your risk? Or change your strategy? We can help... click on any of the buttons below to be on your way to a risk management solution!

 

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Meeting your Records Management needs in 2012... See what is to come!

Posted by Sean Kelly on Fri, Dec 23, 2011 @ 10:44 AM

As 2011 comes to a close, businesses and offices are wrapping up their yearly doings, taking time to enjoy the holidays with colleagues, and getting ready for the start of the new year. Safeguard is too! Safeguard Records Management has decided to bring TWO exciting new offerings to the table in order better serve our destruction and archive customers.

 

Our first new offering will allow prospective and current ongoing destruction customers to have choices when it comes to their ongoing destruction bin. We are offering a new, duraflex destruction console in addition to the two convenient sized 35- and 65- gallon bins.This Console has many benefits over our shredding bins for offices looking for a more aesthetically pleasing ongoing destruction solution.

The sleek, clean console with a slit top and locking door allows for the security of a locking bin with the added benefit of looking more like it "belongs". Also, the console stays in place with only the interior insert being emptied rather getting a different bin during every rotation.

If your interested in receiving a shredding console, or switching our your bin for a console, contact Sean Kelly via contact form, phone, or e-mail.

Request a shredding console

shredding console

 

 

Watch this video in order to get a general idea of what the Compliance Training can do for your office

Our second, most exciting offering that Safeguard has decided to take on and provide to our customers in the healthcare industry is the Doctor's Office Compliance Training Program. This exciting program has been developed by NAID, the National Association for Information Destruction and is applicable to healthcare and dental offices. And the best part... it's free! Yes, FREE! The way NAID gets this compliance training program out to healthcare offices is through certified NAID document destruction providers like Safeguard Records Management.

 

The program can easily be summarized with the 3 following steps:

Receive the video

 Watch & Learn

 Be compliant!

That's it! Simple and quick and you're compliant, just like that! So what are the benefits of your office completing this compliance training you ask?

 

The best part about completing the HIPAA compliance training is, primarily, that you are at less risk of a breach of patient information (and yes, there is a but) BUT everyone knows that anything can happen these days and breaches can happen even in the most compliant and secure offices so here is where the training program really gives you a HUGE benefit... even if there is a breach of data or information, YOU ARE NOT HELD FULLY LIABLE BECAUSE YOU TOOK THE NECESSARY STEPS (i.e. the training) IN ORDER TO BE COMPLIANT!


Can it get any better than that? For minimal time and ZERO cost to you, your office can get trained on compliance with the HIPAA regulations for safeguarding healthcare information. With the maximum HIPAA fine going up 6,000% from $25,000 to $1,500,00 you have to ask yourself, can you really afford not to complete this zero cost training? (Click for more information on HIPAA)

Compliance Training for Healthcare Professionals

 

2012 is gearing up to be a great year for Safeguard Records Management as we look to expand and improve our services in order to meet and exceed the growing needs of our customers. If you'd like to have Sean Kelly get in touch with you regarding anything you have read, please fill out a Contact Us form and he will respond to your inquiry within a couple of hours. In the mean time, be on the lookout for more information on our shredding consoles and the Doctor's Office Compliance Training Program so you can take advantage of it as soon as the new year rolls in!

Happy Holiday's and Happy New Year from everyone at Safeguard!

 

 

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4 Tips for (easy!) Document Managment & Organization

Posted by Sean Kelly on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 @ 09:55 AM

Securely store or shred your documentsIf it's the end of the year/fiscal year for your office or business or you have been trying to get your paper documents organized for the past couple of year and you still have a backlog of documents and files that require cataloguing or destruction, we might be able to give you that boost of help to get your on your way to completing your records management project.

Having all of your important documents organized is essential to keeping your firm or office on-track and efficient, but the actual organization process can be tedious and painstaking. Still, it is important to keep an accurate record of your documents and to find out which documents you can safely dispose of.

An easy way to approach your end-of-the year document organization is to label your files and documents in 1 of 3 ways;

      For “Destroy"Paper shredding

 

For “Off-Site Storage”Secure off-site storage

 

For “In-House Storage”Office Storage

 

Having documents, records, patient files, and financial information organized and accounted for boosts an offices productivity and capacity. You know you need to tackle the issue, but how can you do it efficiently and at a minimal cost?

Below are four tips that can make your end-of-year document organization easier to deal with. These four tips can be done with the cooperation of a certified document shredding and storage company, allowing your firm, business, or office (and your life!) to operate as efficiently as possible with minimum interruptions.

  • Carefully classify and index documents. Before you can relocate or destroy documents, you’ll have to know what you’re dealing with. Indexing documents into the above three categories not only helps you find out exactly what documents your firm or office has but also lets you determine which documents you can safely destroy, which ones need to go into off-site storage, and which ones need to be kept on-site. Document indexing and classification also helps save you time in the future by allowing you to find the documents you need quickly and without struggle. You will also be putting in place a system that can easily be followed for years to come.

 

  • Digitize physical documents. Document digitization for use in a computer repository helps improve access and availability to important documents. Not only does this make it quicker to find what you need for legal and auditing purposes, you may be able to reduce the amount of physical paperwork you need to keep in the office and move the hard-copy records to an off-site storage facility or even have them securely destroyed if they are not needed.

 

  • Package documents for off-site storage. Off-site storage with a Records Management company frees up extra space for in-house document storage of frequently used and referred to documents and it saves you money and time when compared to self-storage where you often pay for unused space.Once you’ve segregated documents for off-site storage from sensitive material that requires destruction and materials that should be kept in the office, be sure to carefully pack and clearly label these items for future reference. Labeling is important for quickly locating stored documents for when you need to access your documents. It also aids in prompt file retrieval by your records management companies’ warehouse staff. A simple alphabetical labeling system on numbered boxes can greatly reduce the time it takes to find any document you may need and makes adding additional files to your storage boxes in the future quick and easy.

 

  • Securely shred and destroy sensitive documents. Now that you’ve gotten your necessary documents stored away, you can focus on having the rest destroyed. It is highly recommended to call on the services of a certified document shredding company to destroy sensitive and private documents. Doing so will prevent instances of confidentiality violations and industrial espionage.

 

Once you are able to implement an efficient system for your records management, any future managing will simply become easier and easier.

Click on any of the following to get a jump start on your end-of-year organization and be provided with a complete and economical solution for all of your document organization needs

 

 

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Safeguard introduces it's future Manager of Shredding Operations.

Posted by Sean Kelly on Wed, Mar 02, 2011 @ 07:42 AM

Safeguard introduces it's future Manager of Shredding Operations.

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Who Is Safeguard Records Management?

Posted by Arielle Burdulis on Tue, Nov 03, 2009 @ 05:58 AM

Safeguard Records Management Co. is a leader in commercial records managemsafeguard recordsent and destruction.     

Safeguard manages your critical records and assets off-site in a secure, cost-effective, and confidental manner.

While storing office records may be Safeguard's largest business segment, we provide a diversity of services, from records destruction to providing in-office secure bins to dispose of you sensitive documents for shredding. We will pick up and replace your bins on an on-call basis or on a regular schedule that you choose. Safeguard will also store unused furniture and office equipment at a less expensive rate than self storage facilities. When it comes to your secure storage and certified destruction needs, Safeguard is truly your “One-stop Shop”.

Log onto http://www.safeguardrecords.com/ or call Sean Kelly at 508.795.1015 for immediate help.

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  • finance
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  • many more!

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