News | March 11, 2011

X-Ray Film Destruction Does Not Need to Include Shredding

March 11, 2011 – Recently, refining and recycling companies have questioned whether or not X-ray shredding was required under the HITECH bill. Some companies were mistakenly reporting that shredding was necessary in order to fully destroy the materials. As a result, hospital and healthcare organizations were spending extra money on this service, when it turned out to be unnecessary.

According to the rules and regulations set forth by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), X-ray film must be destroyed in a manner where it cannot be reconstructed. While some recycling companies do shred the X-ray film, precious metal refiners that recover silver do not have to shred it during the refining process.

"Many healthcare facilities that have X-ray film are now more concerned about the specifics of the destruction regulations since the government issued the HITECH Act," said Stacy Slater, national sales manager for Arch Enterprises. "The HITECH Act actually has very little to do with the X-ray film that precious metal refineries handle. It is more about how hospitals and clinics handle their digital patient information. As long as the X-ray film and patient information is destroyed in a manner to which it cannot be reconstructed and you receive all the necessary documentation of destruction, you are in compliance with the law. Companies like Arch Enterprises destroy the X-ray film according to HIPAA regulations and refine the silver from the film without the added step of shredding the materials."

Hospitals and clinics follow their own state and internal rules and regulations for X-ray storing and removal. However, organizations need to secure refiners that abide by the laws set by HIPAA and HITECH for X-ray refining and destruction. X-ray film needs to be handled in a timely manner and kept under lock-and-key. Refiners then present Certificates of Destruction confirming that the proper process was taken to destroy this sensitive information. The companies also should offer documentation of general liability and environmental insurance policies. While shredding and refining are both destructive processes, some companies use a refining technique to recover the silver from the X-ray film and give returns based on the amount of silver recovered.

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