May a covered entity hire a business associate to dispose of protected health information?
Yes, a covered entity may, but is not required to, hire a business associate to appropriately dispose of protected health information (PHI) on its behalf. In doing so, the covered entity must enter into a contract or other agreement with the business associate that requires the business associate, among other things, to appropriately safeguard the PHI through disposal. See 45 CFR 164.308(b), 164.314(a), 164.502(e), and 164.504(e). Thus, for example, a covered entity may hire an outside vendor to pick up PHI in paper records or on electronic media from its premises, shred, burn, pulp, or pulverize the PHI, or purge or destroy the electronic media, and deposit the deconstructed material in a landfill or other appropriate area.