Types of medical record filing systems

Written by zachariah wavomba
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In the medical field, filing is one of the essential processes when it comes to the management of information. If you do not file your records and keep them safely, retrieval of information in time of need may be greatly impaired. Different methods of arranging medical records will impact the maintenance of records and retrieval of information.

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Alphabetical Filing

With alphabetical filing, medical records are organised using the last and first name. This makes it easy for you to locate medical records for appointments. This filing system expedites the information retrieval process but lacks confidentiality; a patient can be easily identified this way, but the name must be visible to do so.

Straight Numeric Filing

A numeric system files medical records in chronological order. There are three types of straight numeric filing systems used in storing medical records: the unit numbering system, the serial unit numbering system, and the serial numbering system. In the serial numbering system, every patient receives a new number every time he is treated at the hospital. If you visit the hospital five times, you get five different medical record numbers. Unlike the serial numbering filing system, with serial unit numbering despite receiving a new medical record number, your previous records are brought forward and filed by the number that was issued to you latest. As for the unit numbering system, you are assigned one medical number during your first visit, which is applicable in all subsequent treatments and visits. The straight numeric filing method increases client confidentiality and makes it easier to retrieve information. Another advantage is that office personnel can be easily trained on its usage.

Middle- Digit Filing

In this type of medical filing system, numbers are grouped in pairs just like with terminal-digit filing. However, in this case, primary numbers are formed by the two digit numbers in the middle of six consecutive numbers while secondary numbers are the first two numbers in the same order of six numbers. Tertiary numbers are made up of the last two digits. The disadvantage of this type of filing is that it is more complicated and therefore personnel requires more training time. Furthermore, it cannot be used in cases where numbers are higher than six.

Terminal Digit Filing

In the terminal filing system, the last two digits of the filing system mark the primary location of the file. The system has six numbers separated into three groups by the use of a hyphen, for instance 45-67-78. In the system, you have both the secondary and primary numbers which are made up of the last two digits and the first two respectively.

Middle Digit Filing

Middle digit filing is a variation of terminal digit filing. It assigns digits on the right side of the series as tertiary. But the middle and left digits are referred to as primary and secondary respectively. The advantage of this system compared to others is that colour coding can be easily applied. The disadvantage is that as a patient, your numbers are only limited to six digits for easy division into primary, secondary and tertiary digits.

Subject Filing System

The subject filing system organises a patient's records on the basis of subject area, such as insurer's or patient's information. The advantage of this type of medical filing is that everything related to a particular subject is grouped together in a single location. The disadvantage is that it is hard to decide on the location for filing the information. This is because some information fits in more than one subject area or none.

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