Legal question - Pharmacy confidentiality?

I’ve always been under the impression that prescriptions are handled with confidentiality at pharmacies - am I wrong to assume so?

My fiancee had severe sinus/allergy problems a couple months ago. She went to the doctor and he prescribed an allergy drug (that I can’t recall the name of.) She had her prescription filled at Sav-On Drugs, where a former acquaintance happened to work. The worker apparently had quite a grudge against my fiancee from some earlier unrelated event and gave her attitude while filling the prescription. Fast forward two months later, and she has discovered that the worker has told a few friends about the prescription and word has gotten back to my fiancee about the information leak.

Is this a breach of confidentiality? Is there anything that can be done about it, through Sav-On? She’s quite upset that information like this can be leaked and that her confidential information can be spread like this. An allergy medication isn’t an extremely personal thing, but someone who will breach that, could easily talk about more personal things that might come up.

Thank you for any help!

Pharmacies are subject to the HIPAA laws just as other health care providers are. What the pharmacy employee did was violate that law.

Your fiancee needs to schedule a meeting with the pharmacy manager and let that person know what happened. Even though it is “just” an allergy prescription, the employee still violated the law by disclosing private health information to another.

HIPAA violations are quite severe and involve both the employer and employee. The punishment for intentional disclosure is a $50,000 fine or imprisonment not to exceed one year, or both.

If the manager blows your fiancee off, she needs to tell him that she is prepared to file a complaint.

She might also want to find a different pharmacy.


Thanks for the quick response! Do you know what kind of action I could expect the pharmacy to take? After doing some research, it appears other pharmacies will likely terminate an employee found to have committed these violations. This seems like it might be hard to prove - basically a he-said/she-said type thing. I’ll make sure we have all the information together and schedule a meeting with the manager to see what they have to say about it.

She’ll definitely be finding a different pharmacy - thanks again for the help.

It’s actually not that hard a thing to prove. Your fiancee has a bad relationship with the Sav-on employee, and she has people who will come forward to verify her story.

Now then. My previous employers have all had a “no tolerance” policy WRT HIPAA violations. One violation and you’re out. I don’t know what Sav-on’s personnel policy is, but something will be done. The possibility that the employee will cost the company fifty grand plus bring attention is too strong to screw around with. Remember, your fiancee is alleging a federal crime, not that she was overcharged or something.