The ticking HIPAA time bomb

I normally work in LTC , all the RPH’s and techs are in a “restricted area”, so discussing pt’s needs is part of the day to day operation… everyone is on the same page.. as far as HIPAA is concerned..

As I temp in retail/community… IMO.. it is a just a matter of time before someone gets fined/sued for a HIPAA violation regarding PHI.. The partitions that they put up for counseling is a joke in regards to not being overheard what is said.

I have seen pts walk up to the front counter and the have the tech greet the pt by name (Mrs Jones).. and ask to help them..and the pt will shout out I need my “crazy pills” refilled, sometimes.. the exchange has to go farther… keeping in mind the pt and the tech are at least 10 ft apart..  the tech will carry on the conversation with Mrs Jones… “is that your white crazy pills or your blue crazy pills…”

When you repeat verbal orders over the phone back to the Dr’s office.. everyone can hear what is said

If staff is discussing something between themselves … typically anyone can hear the conversation…

IMO… these wide-open … “fish bowl” Rx dept layouts … are potentially a on-going series of HIPAA violations.. it is just a matter of time before someone figures out that there is money to be had by making a complaint about a HIPAA violation.. It should be as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.

Of course, the PIC and/or the RPH on duty at the time of the violation will be the scape goat.. since violating any law/regulations .. puts you in violation of the company’s P&P and they will deny any liability.. because you did something that was against their P&P.. Ain’t this a great system we have ?


3 Responses

  1. It amazes me when a patient comes into the pharmacy (small town independent) and quite loudly says they need their RX. Oblivious to the fifteen sets of ears who just heard it. If I can hear you need your RX from behind the glass and start filling it for you do not take umbrage over the fact everyone in town now also knows. The fact the onus is on the PIC is ridiculous. I believe the chains do squirrel these things away to get rid of pharmacists and personnel when it suits their agendas.

  2. Congrats on leaving the pseudo world of pharmacy and entering the real world of pharmacy. Having owned my own store for 20 yrs .. I can easily relate to what. You are now experiencing. I hope that you are able to retire at a ripe old aged working at that Indy

  3. I’ve worked in a situation where a patient’s lawyer sent us a letter saying that we violated his patient’s Hipaa rights when our cashier told her that her Valtrex was being denied for a prior auth. She said her kids who were present in the checkout- didn’t need know that she had herpes, and now she has to explain it to them. (even the cashier had no idea that was what it’s for.) My rebuttal to my DM- who asked how we could have avoided this situation- How do we run a 500/day pharmacy without mentioning the name of a drug? (especially when we filled 12 for her and they’re all ready?) How do we tell her about the one who’s PA is over a year old, and Medicaid has rejected it?

    This has gone into CRAZY territory. What do we say to this lady? ” We will tell you which medication is not filled, once you’re alone?” “Once there are not 10 people standing right behind you in line?” Or your family members? No doubt we were sued- that may be the real reason I was fired…They pay off these ridiculous suits to avoid larger suits, and need to improve the bottom line. So they fire the $60+ /hr pharmacists and hire in cheaper (younger) labor-who don’t get 5 weeks of vacation -& who don’t cost more in healthcare…. Just saying…

    So my advice if you work in retail. And of course you’ll never read this because you’re so busy making that salary and taking care of your family.. (and that’s what you should be doing.)

    First- don’t take a job with a chain- and if you do- have an escape plan. They WILL fire you when they can/need….I was a 33 yo divorcee- took a job with Walmart and worked for them for over 15 years and was fired in 1 stroke- not a board of pharmacy violation but a company policy. You can be the most ethical pharmacist in the world, and turn yourself inside out for your patients. They will still fire you when they can hire someone cheaper, and improve their bottom line.

    I know this started out as a HIPAA column but it’s all connected. Using hipaa is one more way that the chains can get rid of you, and it’s so silly. Sometimes I wonder if I’m still living in the real world.- I’ve recently started working in an independent and it’s a whole other world. I hug people. I feel useful again.
    More later? As I make my way from 25 yrs as chain, then switching over to real Pharmacy…

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