Breech of confidentiality?

Doctor writes an Rx for his patient. Patient takes Rx to pharmacy. Pharmacy fills Rx. Doctors office calls pharmacy later questioning the Rx. Pharmacist answers doctors office questions. Pharmcacy now being sued by patient for breech of confidentiality, giving information to a 3rd party(her own doctor!). Any thoughts?

Mortar, pestile, pill tile too, I’m a man from Ol’ Purdue.

Did this actually occur or is it hypothetical?

Why is the doctor questioning the Rx? That will make a difference.

Anybody can sue for anything. She could sue her doctor because the sun came up in the morning.

The question is how far it goes before it gets thrown out of the court system.

why would the doctor’s office question the RX if the doctor really wrote it? Why would the doctor’s office call in the first place? Aside from that question, I say there’s no breech of confidentiality. A pharmacist is going to have some idea of the illness anyway and should be aware of other drugs being taken, and, if he/she deems appropriate, have contact the doctor in case the pharmacist has concerns about the prescription (wrong one, drug interaction, etc.) The doctor & pharmacist are two professionals working together on behalf of the patient, and discussion of the patient may be necessary. I think there is more to the story.

Did you learn to spell pestle that way at Purdue?

  • IU grad

I agree with the “more to this story”. This smells like a doctor who suspected a patient of altering the prescription, and called the pharmacy to check on what was actually dispensed.

When the doctor then refused to write for more of the drug & confronted the patient with the fact that he knew about the alteration, the patient went ballistic.

But I’m injecting personal experience into a minimally described situation & could be way off base here…

Sue from El Paso

If the prescription were filled at a pharmacy called “Palace”, you could talk about the pestle in the palace…

I had a doc give me a 'scrip for papain (an enzyme) once, and the pharmacy filled it with Percodan. I suppose I could’ve sued somebody, but I just couldn’t be bothered…

How would the doctor know where to call to check the Rx. Can’t you get it filled anywhere?

If you read the OP carefully, as Sycorax did, you’ll see that it appears that the doctor’s office, not the doctor, called the pharmacy about the Rx. If the nurse documenting the visit calls the pharmacy for clarification of dose/medication, does that breach confidentiality? How would the doctor know which pharmacy anyhow? Of course, that’s just my take of the wording. Details would be appreciated.

Dex, are you taking up Danny Kaye movies, now?


What’s the big deal here? A pharmacist isn’t just some dude working the counter. He or she is a medical professional, working cooperatively with your doctor. When you take a prescription to the pharmacist, you’re inviting that person to participate in your health care. There is nothing at all unusual about a doctor’s office calling the pharmacist to clarify a scrip, make sure the patient got the right instructions or whatever. It’s the same as if your doctor called your specialist to confer on your care.
If the patient responded with a lawsuit, I’d say she’s way off base or responding to being caught doing wrong with the prescription.
– Greg, Atlanta

I cna think of one situation where this might be justified. Say I regularly go to a certain doctor, a doctor everyone in my family has gone to for a hundred years, and let’s say I need a prescription for something that I didn’t want someone who had become a family friend to find out about. (There are a million possibilities there). So I went to another doctor, in a town ten miles away. If in the discussion between the doctor and the pharmacist, the other perscription came up, I can see being outraged, and feeling as if my expectation of confidientality was violated. This is strictly hypothetical, but it is A reason for wanting your doctor and your pharmisist not to speak to intimatly about you while you’re not around.

It’s also a good way to end up dead from drug interaction.

And it’s “breach”.

And “pestle”.

John W. Kennedy
“Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays.”
– Charles Williams

That would be one situation, but the OP indicates that it is the same doctor who wrote the prescription asking for the information.

That’s no fun! I like the title of this thread. Sounds like some kind of magical pant.

In accordance with the scenario where the doctor’s office (as opposed to to doctor) called. The questionable scenario we might be talking about is one where the doctor’s office is doing ‘outcomes research’.

That is to say, perhaps the patient has been given a scrip for drug X, and the nurse, who works part time for the doctor and an HMO customer who pays her on the side, is interested in finding patients who take drug X that are ALSO taking drug Y, he/she might illegally call the pharmacy the patient regularly goes to and ask about whether drug Y is being taken by the patient, she could then tell the HMO who could recruit them for a study, clinical trial, etc.

Maybe it’s not a big deal since it ultimately might be used to help the patient, but imagine the problems if you, say, were HIV-positive, and some telemarketer for the HMO calls your house and the family member who doesn’t know about it suddenly finds out when their asked if the patient is home, and if not, could they please call the HMO who is interested in interviewing them to find out how much their life sucks dealing with HIV, or other such scenario.

I’ve heard of these problems happening before because nurses want to make money on the side, and are sometimes asked (and are even encouraged by the doctors) to help out in research. In this case, however, they are supposed to ask the patient taking drug X (usually by mail) IF they are taking drug Y, and if so, would they be interested in participating in a study. A greedy nurse might be a little less scrupulous, especially if he/she is paid on per patient recruited basis

Im with the person who says pharmasists are professionals. They have to know the drugs & the drug interactions.

Lots of reasons to call the doctor. Maybe they couldnt read his writing, maybe its for a triplicate drug or wants to know what other medicines the patient is taking so they don’t mix up or thinks the patient wrote the RX himself/herself for some juicy no-no drugs…[that happened here recently, the cops came, the guys got arrested]…

BTW: years back it was common to call the doctor anytime someone brought in a RX…

There might be an applicable statute. In Connecticut, a pharmacist generally needs the patient’s consent to release information but there’s an exception in the statute that allows the prescribing doctor (or someone from his/her office)to get information.