Q&A: When your practice's computers get repossessed

May 22, 2009

A few months ago, our practice ran into some financial difficulties, and we tried to renegotiate our lease contract for our computers, but were rebuffed.

Q: A few months ago, our practice ran into some financial difficulties, and we tried to renegotiate our lease contract for our computers, but were rebuffed. The leasing company then threatened to repossess them. Although we are starting to get back on track financially, we still are some payments behind. To make matters worse, we've stored all of our patient records on the computers. What should we do?

A: As a physician, you have the obligation to maintain the privacy of your patient records. If your computers are going to be repossessed, you must ensure that all patient information is permanently removed before they are taken. Since you are obligated to maintain patient records, you should ensure that all patient information is copied before allowing the computers to be removed. If the leasing company seeks to take back the computers before records can be copied and deleted, you will probably need to go to court to prevent it from retrieving the records or allowing access to them.