Records Clean Up: What are your policies and procedures?

I spent much of today scanning and shredding records that I no longer want to store in physical form. These are all business records of various sorts, from vendor invoices we have received and paid to customer invoices we have sent and been paid for. This is a task I have been working at in small bits for some time.

I tend to keep things. When it comes to records, I would always rather be safe than sorry. The outcome of this preference is that untoward amounts of paper wind up in our file cabinets.

The ability to scan records for electronic safekeeping has begun to ease this tendency to accumulate. However, because it takes so much time to do the scanning and shredding, the task gets put off and becomes very large.

A few years ago, we had an office-wide clean up, throw-away day. While we devoted one full day to the process, we had actually been doing the tasks over several days and ended with one final event. We brought a couple of tons of paper, old computers, old books and software manuals to our local recycling facility. It was a very satisfying process.

Do you have policies for the records in your organization? Do you know what your state requires for record maintenance? For how long must you keep business records? What about clinical records? Do you have procedures for purging old records of any kind? Or do you just hang onto everything like me?

Please share your thoughts about and experiences with record retention and destruction. I would love your suggestions for how to make this process less onerous! Just enter your comments below.

0 thoughts on “Records Clean Up: What are your policies and procedures?

  • Nancy Larsen says:

    How long to you recommend keeping records? Would a brief summary work? We have been renting a storage with files by year closed. Every thing is on paper, not electronic. The practice from the beginning has been children who are now 30 years older.

    • I have no idea how long the law in your state requires, Nancy. That may also vary by profession. Here in Florida, for psychologists, it is 7 years from the time the child reaches their majority. Do make sure you get the information about the requirements in your state before proceeding with record destruction!

  • Indiana requires clinical records be retained for seven years. We have a closed file room in the basement; typically we house about 8,000 closed files. Once a year, we order a few extra containers from our shredding service and purge any file without action in seven years.

    It would be helpful to have a report available (other than a query, which we use now) to identify clients with no activity for a specified number of days. It would also be helpful if there was a “purged client” option in OM that would turn the client’s name a different color, similar to the “collections” option now.

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