The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) has a model litigation hold policy posted on its website. The policy and procedures are based on the article "AHIMA Model E-Discovery Policies: Preservation and Legal Hold for Health Information and Records." Journal of AHIMA 79, no.2 (February 2008).
It is a detailed example of a preservation plan for medical organizations faced with anticipated litigation. It is a very good example for anyone working at developing a legal hold policy and proedures for most organizations.
The model policy defines the roles of a Legal Hold Team, a Litigation Response Team, Data Owners (custodians), IT and Compliance. The model policy further defines the responsibilities of the teams and individuals throughout the entire legal hold business process.
The procedures follow the steps necessary to implement legal holds in an organization as discussed at www.legalholds.typepad.com. The steps outlined in the procedures are:
- Trigger Events and Application of a Legal Hold ("The team will identify the trigger events that may indicate the potential threat of litigation")
- Obligation to Identify, Locate, and Maintain Relevant Information ("Once litigation or potential litigation is identified, the response team must engage appropriate individuals to assist in identifying, locating, and maintaining relevant information")
- Preservation/ Legal Hold Notice ("Once relevant information is identified provide a written notice of a legal hold to the department/data owner and identify the relevant information") ("Review the legal hold notices in effect. Periodically reissue or amend as needed")
- Monitoring Legal Holds ("The team will implement a process to monitor legal holds to track compliance")
- Release of a Legal Hold ("Once it is determined that the legal hold is no longer necessary, the litigation response team will release the legal hold")
For a copy of the model policy and procedures click here or the AHIMA banner above: http://tiny.cc/AHIMA_Model_Litigation_Hold_Policy