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Sending faxes: Avoid misdirected faxes with common process steps


Faxing, like many other efforts to protect health information, comes down to basics. Call the recipient to ensure they are near the fax machine. Double- and triple-check fax numbers. Send a cover sheet that clearly addresses to whom the fax is intended. Follow up with a call.

"We try to call the recipient and tell them, 'Hey we're going to fax something to you. If you're at a public fax machine go stand by that machine,' " Wallach says.

Basic stuff, right? But for busy healthcare systems who can send a massive amount of faxes each day, the human error rate is high, says Frank Ruelas, MBA, who serves as principal at HIPAA College in Casa Grande, Arizona, and facility compliance professional at Dignity Health's St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. Ruelas is also a BOH editorial advisory board member.

"Just because you're in a hurry doesn't make it right," says Ruelas. "Do we need something this sophisticated and scientific here? This is a process that should have a really low error rate. Or it should be much lower than it is."

Break down faxing policies into rudimentary steps where employees are comfortable and deploy them, he says.

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