Taking Charts Home

March 1, 2008

I need some help writing a policy concerning physicians taking patients’ records home to work on. Suggestions?

Question: I need some help writing a policy concerning physicians taking patients’ records home to work on. Suggestions?

Answer: I think you make this part of your privacy policy, as referred to in the HIPAA privacy rights statement that new patients sign. If that policy promises to keep charts safe, you should spell out how you’ll do it. If I were writing such a policy, I’d include:

  • Charts should never be left in the car. Not even while you run in to get a quart of milk at the store.

  • Charts should be transported in a locked case.

  • Charts should never be out of the office for more than one night.

  • There should be some way to know where the chart that went home is - some placeholder in the record room.

Really, if I had my druthers, I’d tell physicians that if they want to work at home, they should invest in a secure, Web-based EMR. There are just too many risks to patient privacy and too much inefficiency involved in lugging around paper charts.