How to Properly Store X-Ray Files Before Disposing of the Materials 

Proper storage is an important part of x-ray file management. Making sure you are considering the security and legal needs of these specialized documents before moving forward with disposal. There are several things you need to keep in mind as you are exploring this critical document management issue.  

Data Security 

It’s just not enough to simply recycle or trash old medical documents (including x-rays) or house them in an unsecured archive (either onsite or digital). Secure data management requires an added layer of strategy, thought, and processing. Even seemingly harmless documentation can put your business at risk. Internal memos, draft documents, quotes, financial printouts, pay stubs, meeting notes, and especially records with client data should all be considered worthy of proper storage and disposal.  

Often, the best way to make sure you are doing your due diligence to protect sensitive information, including medical documents, client information, and so on, is to work with an experienced vendor who understands the multiple layers of sensitive information, Understanding how each type of document should be handled for storage and for destruction is beneficial. Medical documents, such as x-rays or other non-paper documentation, require specialized knowledge of how to manage with security top of mind. Storage is one thing, maintaining data security and privacy is another.   

Legal Knowledge 

Privacy laws are gaining in standing and requiring more and more businesses to take their customer information more seriously when it comes to storage and disposal. Regulations such as GDPR are reflecting that increased attention. Governments are putting the burden on businesses. It is the responsibility of the clinics to protect the information they collect and are provided by their clients. When a large retailer has a massive data breach that results in exposure of financial and personal information, it is the merchants who are held responsible. The legal repercussions of such a data breach within the medical field are substantial as well.  

It also means that companies are on the hook to make sure their data is protected to the full extent of the law. As mentioned above, the healthcare industry has a wide-ranging collection of information specific protections. Working with a security vendor who understands the legal requirements will help keep your data protected. Storage needs to be top of mind for medical imaging professionals. You are required to keep X-ray records in storage long after a patient leaves your clinic.  

How Long to Maintain Records 

Because X-rays themselves are heavy and take up valuable space, many choose to store these records digitally. Federal and state standards dictate that clinics maintain X-rays for at least a few years after the last patient encounter. X-rays must be stored for several years, regardless of how you choose to store them. Right now, there is no universal federal standard for healthcare X-ray retention and state requirements differ tremendously, so the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) suggests researching the standards that apply to your clinic from your state, the federal government, and industry associations such as AHIMA. 

Review each standard and choose the longest from your list. If federal, state, and industry recommendations say 4, 6, and 10 years respectively, you should retain records for 10 years. Complying with the patchwork of laws is easier if your own clinic’s standards are higher than the minimum requirements. 


About Happy Faces Records Management

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With outsourced document and records management, records are out of the way, but easily accessible when you need them. HF Services can deliver physical data within two hours, and electronic data in under ten minutes.

  • Save space by getting seldom-used files out of cabinets and data off of drives
  • Control data by securely storing it offsite and managing it with HF Services
  • Improve compliance by ensuring that all critical data is stored securely and accessibly
  • Secure and retain data as long as you need it
  • Bring order to chaos by streamlining and consolidating your records

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