Disposal of Paper Documents
Technically, if records are kept in an electronic format, that cannot be altered i.e. scanned document, then they can be deemed to provide a true and accurate record, and it is probably safe to destroy paper records. However, you must comply fully with the Good Practice Guidelines for Electronic Patient Records (version 4, 2011). You should also remember that any records that relate to patients where there are known medico-legal issues, (complaints, civil or criminal law) should be kept pending further advice from your medical defence organisation.
When summarising and shredding you should ensure that you:
- identify each file or document to be destroyed;
- record that the complete file or document has been stored electronically;
- have ensured that the electronic version is a true and accurate copy of the original, or state how it is different.
Finally, if you intend to move to shredding all paper records (with the above caveats), you should have a conversation with your Medical Defence Organisation prior to doing so to ensure that they are satisfied with the systems you have in place.
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