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    Hippa Violation Or Privacy Law Violation?

    Asked May 29, 2007, 10:09 AM 16 Answers
    My ex boyfriend got me pregnant and left me at four months. I have many physical problems and he had his friend who is a pharmicist look up my perscriptions (I live 40 miles away from that store location and have never been there) and then the pharmacisit shared all the information. Can I do anything legally to the pharmacy or the pharmicist? Are we just supposed to report these violations and let them keep happening and get nothing for it? Please respond to me. Please do not attach any answers because you know how back opening attachments are- not that I don't trust people that would anser me it's just there are those wackos out there. Please respond. I have had hippa violations happen over and over but this is the worst. There must be something I could do. I really liked his friend but to share private information knowing you could not do that- that's too much power for a person to wield if they can't keep privacy. Privacy law- is it a violation of a privacy law? Who would be a good lawyer if I did have a case? I can't afford much. My email is:

    Last edited by J_9; May 31, 2007 at 09:08 PM.
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    wynelle's Avatar
    wynelle Posts: 184, Reputation: 21
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    #2

    May 30, 2007, 10:33 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by jen25ohio
    Please respond to me. Please do not attach any answers because you know how back opening attachments are- not that I don't trust people that would anser me it's just there are those wackos out there.
    I have no idea what you mean by back-opening attachments.

    How do you know this pharmacist looked up your prescriptions?

    HIPAA has been a way of life for several years. Why have you not brought charges before?

    You do realize that you sound a bit paranoid?
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    chippers's Avatar
    chippers Posts: 440, Reputation: 88
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    #3

    May 30, 2007, 10:43 PM
    It's a violation of the hippa act. If you can prove it you can sue the pharmacy and your ex and his friend can be held liable. The pharmacy computor can tell when someone's been looking up information on which patient and who's doing it. With your situation, you can seek help from legal aide. Check out health care facilities for prenatal care and social services for assistance. Once the baby is born go for child support. Also, I'd change pharmacies if I were you. It would take care of a llot of your trouble.
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    jen25ohio's Avatar
    jen25ohio Posts: 5, Reputation: 1
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    #4

    May 31, 2007, 06:51 AM
    I don't think I explained the situation fully enough for the first response to understand. I go to 1 Walgreen's Pharmacy in my hometown. 40 miles away the sperm donor (ex) of my child whom I've not seen since I was 4 months. Pregnant- and now he's 8 months old got this prescription info. I was finally able to get a hold of him by tracking him down through his parents. He doesn't want to pay child support- if I just left him alone he'd never see the child or pay but I told him I wanted to proceed in taking action to get money for his child. Since he's been through this before (he's got an older daughter) he doesn't want to go to court. I know he got the info. From his friend because the idiot told me I was taking 7 prescriptions (the # I had filled at Walgreen's the mth.before) and said one of them was for bipolar though he mistakenly described my migraine medicine which is a black and yellow pill. Now how else would he know that info. NO ONE knows all the prescriptions I take except me. The medications I take now are completely different then any I had taken when we dated- it's been around 2 years now. There is only one medication of the 7 that was the same. He admitted that he had his friend look up my profile and that he was going to take the child (using this as a threat so I don't ask him for money) and then talked about the bipolar (which I never took and returned to my doctor anyway) and the description of the other med. I was taking. When I laughed at him and told him that was against the law and his friend was going to get in so much trouble his story changed and then it became the pharmacist just looked them up on the internet-- but only one of the pills is the same. So what do you think now? Do you want to know how someone can pull your profile out of a Walgreen's store anywhere from a centralized system and (as I was told by Walgreen's when I made a complaint) there would never be a record of who looked at it. Do you want your medications made public to anyone? Some people might not care but I personally feel that these are private things. This makes it possible for people to find out if you are taking aids medication if they are savvy enough and even have a little info on you. What if after a pregnancy you were feeling down and took anti-depressants? Those things in life are private and pharmacists take an oath to make this so! If you go to Walgreen's put a LOCK on the store you go to so they can't pull you out of the centralized system. (I am definite about the process about pulling the profiles from the system- I know a pharmacist who explained this). Who knows if this will even guarantee your privacy? I think it's time to find a new pharmacy that guarantees your privacy. I am well aware that it is a hard thing to do but having a woman in the complaint department tell me that anyone can pull up my record and there would be no trace of who looked at it and why. It scares and angers me. There was a lawsuit in Florida against Walgreen's possibly regarding hippo violations. Does anyone know anything about it? Also- does anyone know if I was told the truth by Walgreen's? When my record is pulled from the centralized system because I am not a customer of the particular store but a customer of Walgreen's is that traceable? Hope I clarified the issue and my questions more. This is really a big deal- at Walgreen's every customer has the possibility of someone getting their information, even comments that stores make. I had even had a message put on my account to check my identification when I pick up prescriptions but that still was not enough protection to keep my record from being seen by another store. Shouldn't we- as consumers- be made aware we have to put this LOCK on our account or there is the possibility of a privacy breach?
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    shygrneyzs's Avatar
    shygrneyzs Posts: 5,017, Reputation: 936
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    #5

    May 31, 2007, 07:00 AM
    So you do not use the Walgreen's Pharmacy that your boyfriend had his friend look your medications? I guess that does not matter - there was a clear violation of your privacy rights. Where did you report this before? Did you report this to the state's Pharmacy Board? Did you contact an attorney? If you want to pursue this, you need some legal aid. Get everything you have said down in order. From first step to last. Detailed, exact, precise and with as many names as possible.

    You asked about chain pharmacies - yes - they can pull information about a person even if they do not use that store. CVS Pharmacy does it, because I have needed to do that for my son. But I have had to about give a pint of blood and a pound of flesh before they believed I was my son's Mother. Even then, I had to go home and get a copy of my son's guardianship papers showing that I am his legal guardian, before they would transfer information from one of their pharmacies to the one I was going to change to (because it was closer to home). But there is nothing preventing an employee in one store accessing information about a person's prescriptions. Nothing but their oath to preserve the client's right to privacy.

    Get an attorney and nail whoever you want to the wall.
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    chippers's Avatar
    chippers Posts: 440, Reputation: 88
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    #6

    May 31, 2007, 08:52 PM
    It doesn't matter if she used a chain pharmacy or not. If she has any type of insurance or even a social security number. One pharmacy can trace prescription purchases by the I.D. numbers. This is one way phramacies can track patients that phartmacy shop for narcotic presriptions. As a nurse I've seen thses practices done. If her boyfriend asked the friend whose a pharamcist, this is one way he can check unfortunately. Like I said If she can prove an employee of walgreens did this (by checking computor script logs. Each employee has to enter an I.D. code to access the computer) If she sees an attorney, they can subpena the logs. Then they can go after the pharmacist and the pharmacy. They can be held liabel.
    Even in a hospital setting, I can't access a patient I am not caring for. If I do I have to have a good reason or its my license.

    The only pharmacy I remember anything like that was a cvs when a husband soon to be ex went to the store got a print out of his soon to be ex's script history. Apparently she was on antidepreeants which don't mean much these days ( allot of people are on them and does not mean a psych history). When it was presented at court, judge deemed it obtained illegally, wife sued the pharmacy and won a liabel case.
    The hippa law was originated in part due to a famous tennis player, arthur ashe, who acquired aides through a blood transfusion. His records were sold to a newspaper who published it.
    In hospitals we would have people just walk up and take the chart of someone they wanted to know somehting about. Family members would grab them and read what was going on. Hippa prevents that.
    They would say they had power of attorney and had the right to do that. We would say, their power of attorney comes into play when the patient can't speak for themselves.
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    jen25ohio's Avatar
    jen25ohio Posts: 5, Reputation: 1
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    #7

    Jun 1, 2007, 06:13 AM
    The only thing is Walgreen's is telling me once the pharmacist logged into his computer and since I was a customer there he had to pull me from his centralized system. This lets him view my record. But they tell my there is no way to tell that he did it because their system doesn't enable them to take a record of the person who pulls that record. That's scary and sounds like BS. To prevent this I was told you had to put a lock on your account. I already had id verification put onto my profile and it was known then that I didn't want my prescriptions to go out to anyone else, or info. To be shared but they say threat only prevents others from picking up their prescriptions. If anything I think Walgreen's (if those records are not traceable) should be held liable for not informing me of this information. I had the id check put on to prevent a certain person (different man) from accessing my information and prescriptions therefore they should have told me about this lock at that time. Is that failure to inform? I have always been very protective of my prescription records that's why this is such a big deal.
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    wynelle's Avatar
    wynelle Posts: 184, Reputation: 21
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    #8

    Jun 1, 2007, 07:12 AM
    If this man acknowledges that he looked up your personal data for an uninvolved party (ie your ex-boyfriend), then he could be held liable for a HIPAA violation.

    Your problems are multiple.

    First and foremost, proving he did this. You only have your ex-boyfriend's recanted statement.

    Second, how and why would the ex-boyfriend even know you were taking all these medications if you haven't seen him in over a year? Since he was making absolutely no attempt to be involved in your life, why would he have any reason to go have someone look-up your prescription history?

    Third, you need to find an attorney to represent you regarding the child support issue. Your prescription history should have no impact on your receiving child support, unless the ex-boyfriend decided to sue you for custody. If you have a significant enough history of mental disorders that include instability and institutionalizations, he might be able to get shared custody, but the purloined prescriptions very likely will not be accepted in court.

    In terms of the HIPAA violation, it seems that either Walgreens is very lax in their adherence, or they don't believe your story that the pharmacist told a third party. To sue them, you might have to prove damages to you. What damages do you have? Were you fired? Publicly demeaned, so that you lost your job or home?
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    chippers's Avatar
    chippers Posts: 440, Reputation: 88
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    #9

    Jun 1, 2007, 01:57 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by wynelle
    If this man acknowledges that he looked up your personal data for an uninvolved party (ie your ex-boyfriend), then he could be held liable for a HIPAA violation.

    Your problems are multiple.

    First and formost, proving he did this. You only have your ex-boyfriend's recanted statement.

    Second, how and why would the ex-boyfriend even know you were taking all these medications if you haven't seen him in over a year? Since he was making absolutely no attempt to be involved in your life, why would he have any reason to go have someone look-up your prescription history?

    Third, you need to find an attorney to represent you regarding the child support issue. Your prescription history should have no impact on your receiving child support, unless the ex-boyfriend decided to sue you for custody. If you have a significant enough history of mental disorders that include instability and institutionalizations, he might be able to get shared custody, but the purloined prescriptions very likely will not be accepted in court.

    In terms of the HIPAA violation, it seems that either Walgreens is very lax in their adherence, or they don't believe your story that the pharmacist told a third party. To sue them, you might have to prove damages to you. What damages do you have? Were you fired? Publicly demeaned, so that you lost your job or home?

    The damages were, her records were made available to a party not involved with her meds. As she stated, the meds he received knowledge of were meds taken prior to pregnancy.and as far as she stated he used those med records to try and treathen her by taking custody of the child so she would back off. As far as him knowing her meds, he didn't need to as long as he know which pharmacy she used. He probably went to his friend and said look she's giving me grief, can you do me a favor...
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    jen25ohio's Avatar
    jen25ohio Posts: 5, Reputation: 1
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    #10

    Jun 5, 2007, 06:09 AM
    What if I turned them in and hypothetically they returned my call, said they found the pharmacist who did it, and they apologized for violating my hippa rights. What then- hypothetically?
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    jen25ohio's Avatar
    jen25ohio Posts: 5, Reputation: 1
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    #11

    Jun 5, 2007, 06:11 AM
    What could this all possibily lead to if it went to court- if they admitted it was done by their employee- and what if it stayed out of court- what could I see? These records were used to extort, harass and keep me from pursuing the third party for child support. The person is his best friend- Walgreens is liable also?
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    MacDude's Avatar
    MacDude Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
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    #12

    Apr 9, 2009, 09:36 AM
    Bottom line the pharmacist was plain wrong and could face serious fines and even jail time.

    Penalties for HIPAA Violations

    HIPAA calls for civil and criminal penalties for privacy and security violations, including: -- fines up to $25K for multiple violations of the same standard in a calendar year - fines up to $250K and/or imprisonment up to 10 years for knowing misuse of individually identifiable health information.
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    twinkiedooter's Avatar
    twinkiedooter Posts: 12,172, Reputation: 1054
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    #13

    Apr 9, 2009, 03:15 PM

    Get your RX's filled elsewhere. I always had problems with Walgreens.

    Go to the child support office and file for child support if you know where he now resides.
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    LawProf's Avatar
    LawProf Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
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    #14

    Apr 25, 2011, 03:07 PM
    IF a pharmacist gave a friend protected health care information, the pharmacist faces up to TEN years in prison and $250,000.00 in criminal fines, as this would constitute the worst type of HIPAA violation, to wit, one in which individually identifiable health information was used for commercial gain or malicious harm. Even a "simple" offense -- meaning health care information was disseminated not for the purpose of diagnosis, treatment or billing -- carries a fine of up to $100,000.00 and a year in prison. HIPAA is a very serious piece of legislation and should be taken seriously. If the pharmacist did as you say, he or she should be behind bars.
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    angela j's Avatar
    angela j Posts: 2, Reputation: 1
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    #15

    Jul 7, 2011, 11:28 AM
    I work at a nursing home and I called in last week spoke to the d.o.n. and the next day a can was spreading my business with other cna's the only person I spoke to was the d.o.n. and when I found out that my business was all over the building I asked the d.o.n. how was my business out and she said she didn't know and denied that she told any one what rights do I have?
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    AK lawyer's Avatar
    AK lawyer Posts: 12,592, Reputation: 977
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    #16

    Jul 7, 2011, 11:45 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by angela j View Post
    i work at a nursing home and i called in last week spoke to the d.o.n. and the next day a cna was spreading my business with other cna's the only person i spoke to was the d.o.n. and when i found out that my business was all over the building i asked the d.o.n. how was my business out and she said she didnt know and denied that she told any one what rights do i have?
    Please refrain from posting your question in a thread asked by someone else, in this case more than four years ago. Instead, please start your own thread.

    What sort of information is it that you describe as "my business"? If you work at the nursing home, and are not a patient, I am not sure that whatever it is would constitute information protected by HIPAA.
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    michnrse's Avatar
    michnrse Posts: 1, Reputation: 1
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    #17

    Mar 12, 2012, 03:06 AM
    It doesn't matter. If a Hippa Violation has occurred the government will take over and WalGreen will be fined. The Pharmacist, and yes they can pull who did it" can be fired, fined, and even jailed. All electronic records are traceable no matter what WalGreen told you. Like many others stated. Write what happened down. In order, by date, with no emotion involved. Hippa violations are taken very seriously.
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