Have you ever witnessed this situation? - page 2

by RNewbie 9,619 Views | 64 Comments

I went to the pharmacy to pick up a new prescription. When my name was called the pharmacist came out, opened the medication package, announced what it was for, held it up in front of everyone, and proceeded to give me detailed... Read More


  1. 6
    My pharmacy has signs stating that they cannot guarantee auditory privacy at the pharmacy counters. The same sign also states that if privacy is desired for the patient to ask to speak to the pharmacist in private. This is understandable given that the pharmacy is located an open and public area: one needs to be realistic about the level of privacy to expect while standing at the pharmacy counter at the local CVS.

    Also, given the volume of customers that they deal with, it's also not feasible for the pharmacy to automatically pull every single patient aside to discuss their medications in private. Imagine how long that process would take: 20 minutes to wait on the prescription to be filled and verified then another 40 minutes waiting because the pharmacist is counseling...and most pharmacies only have one or two staff at most working the pick-up lane. Neverminding that there will always be that one patient with a million questions, not all of which have to do with the medication...

    So while I'm not saying what happened to you was acceptable, you do need to realize that you are not in an entirely private setting and need to be realistic about what to expect. And now you know what to do the next time you need to pick up a prescription--immediately request to speak to the pharmacist in private.
    Rose_Queen, sharpeimom, wooh, and 3 others like this.
  2. 0
    Quote from That Guy
    No worse then the "privacy" in an ER where you are explaining meds to a pt.
    Yeah, most ERs I've seen are basically large wards with beds separated by curtains. You can and do hear everything. Not ideal, but it's reality.
  3. 3
    Quote from Wet Noodle
    What's wrong with it? It's a blatant HIPAA violation. And it's not up to the pharmacist to decide which drugs are to embarrassing for a full-room broadcast and which are not. What the pharmacist did is not OK even if you have one of the small number of "cool" diseases.He'd better become aware. He's violating federal law and risks large fines or worseHIPAA Violations and Enforcement (AMA)
    But I don't understand what you expected that pharmacist to do. Maybe try politely telling him you don't need instructions on taking the med? And I think he *has* to verbally verify your name and the name of the med as he hands it to you. I would imagine that is part of a pharmacy's safety protocol.
    mzmae, joanna73, and Meriwhen like this.
  4. 3
    No, that's never happened to me, I've never witnessed it and I would be upset, too. People who may need the services of free clinic days shouldn't be assumed to be less intelligent or less informed based on their supposed financial status, either. I would've complained to him and if need be, the next person higher up the chain.

    Even when privacy is only a curtain, there is a definite difference between a conversational tone and and an "announcement" tone.
    jadelpn, mazy, and bewilly like this.
  5. 2
    I understand having reasonable expectations of privacy. For instance, a pharmacist might inform a person that it is important to take the full antibiotic treatment even if they start feeling better without naming the medication or saying what it is used to treat, or to not drink alcohol with a certain med. I might expect something like that at the counter. I would not expect a pharmacist to say "Here is your Provestra, (while holding the package up) make sure you take it at least 3 hours before any intercourse for optimal vaginal lubrication, and you may notice xyz symptoms."

    I have gone to the larger chain pharmacies and I have never noticed anything like that. They usually have a separate window away from others for people who have questions. I've gotten tons of scripts filled at these large chains and the most anyone ever says is "Do you have any questions about this medication?" At this small community pharmacy, I did not have any concerns about the medication. The pharmacist did not ask me if I had questions. He immediately took the medication out of the manufacturer packaging, announced what it was for and started giving me the most elementary instructions. He was holding it up like it was a tutorial. For those of you who are saying I should have stopped him, I agree. I was just paralyzed with shock. I did eventually stop him but it was too late, everyone was already standing around looking and listening. I grabbed the med and got out of there.
    mazy and JRP1120, RN like this.
  6. 2
    Nope, this has never happened to me. And I do use a chain pharmacy.

    However, there are areas - one labelled "Drop Off" and one labelled "Consultation" where you can lean into a sort-of carel, with walls on either side of you. If you speak in a low voice and the Pharmacist/Techs also do, people over in the waiting area can't hear unless they have super-ears (some people just have those). So, it can't be perfectly private, but it isn't as bad as someone broadcasting your health information to the entire room. They could try a little harder to be discrete, especially when there are such stiff fines involved.

    This happening to you in a small town is actually worse in a way - they don't have to counsel hundreds of people a day - they could probably take the time to explain things to you in private, or at least make an attempt. The next time you get your scripts filled, you should make sure to tell the pharmacist to his face that you know what HIPPA is, and that you think his "demonstrations" might be in violation.
    Last edit by microtutor on Sep 13, '12
    Wet Noodle and JRP1120, RN like this.
  7. 1
    OP, FWIW, I think you are right to be upset. If this were one of those Code of Conduct scenarios, I would call it a HIPAA violation; so it may very well be. The practice needs to stop; not just for you but for anyone using that pharmacy. Please report this to someone higher up the food chain than the bully pharmacist.
    Last edit by sirI on Sep 13, '12 : Reason: quoted removed post
    Got CPR? likes this.
  8. 0
    I'm there with ya... isn't that violating HIPPA laws?? I believe so... I have experienced the same thing in the small town I live in. I don't appreciate everybody in the pharmacy knowing I use a narcotic for pain control, especially since I work in the only health facility/small hospital here. These idiots literally have to be told they are violating the law, and to stop this practice or face reprimand. You need to speak up the next time it happens (and hopefully it doesn't!!).
  9. 1
    Depends on what the med was. If it bothered me, I would have said something right there. While HIPAA is important, let's be honest. In a public place such as a supermarket drugstore, people may overhear things. Now, the pharmacist still has a responsibility to be somewhat discreet and not shout out the information, but unfortunately, these environments are not private.
    Meriwhen likes this.
  10. 0
    I think you're getting way too gung-ho here. What the pharmacist did was pretty common, though it may not be right. What we're taught in the books are ideal/theoretical situations. Nothing in the real world is ever that pretty. How many times have you heard coworkers talking about things in the breakroom? Are you going to be super nurse and tell them to pipe down too? 99% of the people won't and don't pay much attention to it. Honestly to me, it only becomes a big deal when someone calls attention to something, thus making it a big deal.

    When people start posting stuff on FB and saying names, etc. then it becomes a big deal and those people should be dealt with.

    I'm sure if you would have called out the pharmacist and caused a scene, you would have created a more memorable situation for the people around you, and this would have been the exact opposite of what you want.
    Last edit by CSUSM10 on Sep 13, '12


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