Attorneys for the receiver in charge of the former Southwest Regional Medical Center are recommending that 10,000 boxes of medical records still at the hospital be held for thirty days and then destroyed.
New Growth Advisors Receiver Sumner Saeks asked Common Pleas Judge Scott Gusweiler for permission on August 10 to sell the hospital property in Georgetown at auction.
Gusweiler declined to authorize the sale, partly over concerns about the medical records that are still in the building. He told Saeks and his attorneys that he would not authorize the sale of the building without a plan for final disposition of the records.
That plan was delivered to the court on Sept. 12.
In it, the attorneys cover the records disposal procedures called for under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA, other federal regulations and Ohio law.
The most guidance appears to come from federal bankruptcy law, which calls for patients, insurance carriers and federal agencies to be notified if records are to be destroyed.
The Receivers Memorandum to Gusweiler reads “…if medical records are not collected by the patient, insurance carrier or federal agency, then the trustee my destroy the medical records…”
The memorandum recommends to Gusweiler that the procedure should be “The Receiver promptly notify appropriate federal agencies of insurance carriers of the availability of depositing the records with those parties within 30 days of the letter, The Receiver publish notice in a publication of local circulation and the Cincinnati Enquirer providing for patients to contact the Receiver within 30 days of publication to claim the records or they will be destroyed, (and) The Receiver, after expiration of the 30-day time periods, will (1) shred or burn medical records and destroy the electronic records.”
The memorandum also lays out the cost of storing the records rather than destroying them.
“If the Receiver were to arrange for the records to be stored for four years and then destroyed, the cost would be around $192,073.60,” the memorandum states.
Two things must happen before the 30 day clock for destruction of the records would begin.
First, Gusweiler must approve the plan and order the Receiver to proceed.
Second, the required letters to federal agencies and insurance carriers would have to be sent out.
Gusweiler is also yet to rule on whether the property can be sold at auction and other considerations of the sale.
Anyone who believes that they have a medical record at the former hospital is asked to come to the building at 425 Home Street in Georgetown during regular business hours.