Have you ever witnessed this situation? - page 5

by RNewbie 9,898 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. 0
    Quote from GrumpyRN63
    Wow. I am shocked by two things. First the Pharmacist, I agree, unprofessional and violation of HIPAA, I would def report and/or speak to him directly. PT CONFIDENTIALITY!!! Especially in a small community in front of other customers!! One thing if you were alone, and he was discreet... Second, I'm rather stunned about the number of people responding that think it's no big deal.

    I'm surprised about this too. Pharmacists are bound by HIPAA.

    There is no list of meds that are "acceptable" to discuss in public.

    It is not OK for someone to disclose medical information about someone in public. In the case of it happening in a professional capacity, there are professional regulations and consequences for violating HIPAA. This needs to be addressed.

    I don't understand the argument that it's best not to say something because by making a fuss you draw more attention to yourself. To create change you need to make a fuss. The OP can complain about this in private, later, after the fact. No one needs to know but the pharmacy.

    If privacy areas do not exist, then they need to be set up for patient confidentiality.

    The OP is describing a scenario where the pharmacist took out her med, announced it out loud, pulled out the instructions and counseled her in public. Whether it happened in front of everyone or in another area, either way it's not going to affect the wait time for the other customers.

    Wherever it occurs, they're still going to be waiting while someone is being counseled.

    So if it creates problems for other customers that pharmacists are consulting in private, then the pharmacy needs to find a way to accommodate privacy issues.

    Customers shouldn't have to be in a situation where they say, oh well, I have no choice but to let this happen because the pharmacy doesn't want to adhere to HIPAA.

    Just because something happens in another area of health care, that doesn't mean it's OK to happen somewhere else. Privacy may be hard to come by in the ER, however up on the floors it's a completely different story.

    Same as in my doctor's office, or in the pharmacy.
  2. 1
    Quote from BrandonLPN
    I'm not getting what the big deal is. Does he really have time to take you to a private room to discuss your meds? Couldn't you have interrupted him if it bothered you that much?

    Also, if I'm giving a resident a new med, I might tell them what it is and what it's for out in front of everybody. I don't have time to wheel them to their room or something. Yes, that would be "best" practice but I have many many other pts to pass meds to. In the real world there just isn't time.

    Now, if I were giving someone some Viagra or ciallis, I might not broadcast it for all to hear. But what exactly are you worried about if the lady behind you in line knows you're taking metformin or an ABX or something? If you're privacy is that important, maybe you shouldn't buy your meds in a public supermarket with a dozen people lined up right behind you.
    Brandon, I think you were on the right elevator, but you got off on the wrong floor. Your thinking is right, but slightly askew. If I'm not mistaken, you are thinking about residents in a LTC facility instead of the general public at say a Walgreens or a CVS. While HIPAA still applies, it is still a little different from a public presentation. In a LTC, most of the residents know each other, informally at least, and you don't always tell them what the meds are anyway, because a good portion of them don't know or care, or wouldn't know if you did tell them.

    Where a person chooses to have their prescriptions filed shouldn't mean they are offering up their rights to privacy and the HIPAA Laws are there to guarantee just that. Some of you may remember the sign in sheets that used to be found on the Pharmacy desk to keep track of when you arrived and your place in line. HIPAA did away with those, as they were a violation of peoples privacy, as was the practice of verbally calling out the patients name when the prescription was ready, I'm not certain how they are getting around that one. They should be utilizing a number system. But, to verbalize the name of the script is going way to far outside of the lines of appropriate. They should simply ask if the patient has any questions regarding the use of the prescription, and that is all.

    You recognized the embarrassment that might be caused by the male enhancement drugs, yet failed to understand where a female might be sensitive to hormones or premenstrual type drugs or devices being broadcast for the whole store to hear. Now that just doesn't make any sense whatsoever to me. You might need to brush up on your empathy & sensitivity a bit there little brother. I understand being a young male LPN can severely limit your exposure to OB/GYN, but maybe a couple of continuing ed courses will help you catch up. Funny, I just had a flashback to my OB classes in school. I had a blast and I loved my time in the Nursery, all of the Nurses just loaded the babies on me and took off. That was a very different time though.
    Last edit by FMF Corpsman on Sep 13, '12 : Reason: Spelling and Gen. Edit
    psu_213 likes this.
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    I would advise staying away from drive thru Pharmacies as well. Wait until you hear all of your info blasted through a loud speaker. Not only do the cars behind you hear everything but anybody at the fast food place next door gets to hear too. I always the some junky could just hide in the alley and wait for the right prescription to be called, then jump out and car jack somebody.

    OP--Are we going to find out the embarrassing medication or what? Cmon, inquiring minds wanna know!
    Meriwhen, imintrouble, and rammstein like this.
  4. 0
    My local Wal-Mart does the same thing. Honestly I have never been offended or upset about it. I appreciate the pharmacist caring enough to make sure I know how to take my medication correctly. Just my opinion, let the "are you dumb" comments commence.
  5. 0
    Quote from RNewbie
    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 instructions on how to take it. I was so shocked, I couldn't say anything. I just stood there nodding. The pharmacist was still talking, everyone was standing around looking and I finally said, "Thanks, but I can read the instructions." He said, "Okay, if you have any questions, give us a call." I grabbed my prescription and left. Now I am so mad that I didn't stand up to him and tell him that he can't do that. He did the same thing to the person before me but I was on the phone and not paying much attention but I was thinking that she probably had questions about the medication, but the pharmacy is a small community pharmacy and there is no private area for counseling and I could hear everything he was telling her. He did not announce what kind of med it was but I could practically figure it out.

    I believe that this all happened because I went to a free clinic for my annual exam because I am currently uninsured. The pharmacy is next to the free clinic and they told me they could call the script in there and I could just go next door to get it, so I agreed. I think that this pharmacist assumes that he is dealing with a certain kind of customer because most of his business is sent from the free clinic. I feel like his intentions were good for trying to educate people on their medications but he should first ask them if they have any questions regarding the prescription (not just whip the med out and start rambling about how to take it) and he should find a private area to counsel people on their meds. You can not do that in front of people.

    A few months ago I was watching that show on ABC, What Would You Do? hosted by John Quinones. They did this same exact scenario. I remember thinking, what professional would ever do such a thing? Now I see.

    Has anyone ever witnessed anything like this? What would you have done? I'm feeling like a wimp because I did nothing.

    I had a Pharmacist do this to me at Walgreens. I was picking up antibiotics and he took them out of the package and showed me the label and then read it to me. He then proceeded to ask me if I was sexually active?!?! I just stood there dumbfounded. He then explained if I were on bc I needed to use extra precaution because if your on bc and taking antibiotics you will lose the affects of the bc. I was only 18 at the time and didn't know this information so I guess it was helpful but I think the Pharmacist could have went a different route...
  6. 1
    This isn't rocket science. I pick up my meds at a supermarket. The pharmacy has a sign posted that asks other customers to respect others' privacy by coming to the counter only when called. There's a small rope line just like at the bank. The pharmacist keeps his voice down. Problem solved. No special architecture required.

    I agree with GrumpRN63: I'm disappointed at the number of people who think this is no big deal. As for the nurse who says that's "just like giving meds in the ED," I beg to differ. If there's someone else in the room, I warn my patients that I'm about to ask personal questions and ask them if they'd like privacy; when appropriate, I ask people to leave. And I always close the door when I'm talking regardless of who's in the room.

    The OP dealt with someone who was behaving thoughtlessly. The problem needs to be brought to his employer's attention so that all who work in that pharmacy respect customer privacy and comply with the law.
    Wet Noodle likes this.
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    I see this all the time at my pharmacy. It really irks me!! I pick up my prescriptions from my large hospital/ clinic that is part of a large medical foundation. I think I'd understand this type of over sight at a small convenience store type of pharmacy. I hate hearing other people's medication details- I feel like I'm violating their privacy because I can hear. Yes there is a rope holding us back but the pharmacist talks soooooooo loud. Maybe I should fill out a survey complaint and take it to member services.
  8. 0
    Quote from djxpress
    I think you're getting way too gung-ho here. What the pharmacist did was pretty common, though it may not be right.
    That is as blatantly insensitive and dismissive, it reveals a frank lack of understanding of HIPAA's privacy provisions. You might as well tell victims of bullying to stop whining, since it just encourages the bullies.

    I see a lot of straw-manning happening in this thread. The OP did not have the expectation that the pharmacist would speak to her only in a cone of silence.

    Quote from djxpress
    What we're taught in the books are ideal/theoretical situations.
    So therefore, just throw out the book, and not concern ourselves about the real possibility of civil and criminal prosecution? Not every situation is theoretical or ideal. The OP's situation is one example.

    Quote from djxpress
    Nothing in the real world is ever that pretty.
    Nothing? So do you really advocate just not worrying about patient privacy, much less, HIPAA?

    Quote from djxpress
    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?
    Are they talking about you and the meds that you take? If that were the case, then would you say anything? That is the OP's scenario.

    Are your fellow nurses broadcasting their discussions over the public address system?

    Quote from djxpress
    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.
    Quote from djxpress
    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.
    You have to decide which battles you think are worth fighting, and where your ethics take you.

    I won't get into the history of people going along to get along, and the tragedies that ensue because of it. Imagine if no one took a stand on anything, ever.

    Quote from djxpress
    When people start posting stuff on FB and saying names, etc. then it becomes a big deal and those people should be dealt with.
    No, that's not when it becomes a big deal. If your personal health information is unnecessarily broadcast to a room of people, you have both a legal and ethical violation. In the OP's case, the pharmacist did not have to do what he did. It sounds like it was not a concern of his, given his customary clientele, who would not complain. Perhaps they were accustomed to mistreatment.

    If you deal with personal health information, I hope you're not as lax about its handling as you sound here. I work in human subject research, and we take it very seriously. In that setting, if you expressed your thoughts on privacy out loud, you would not last very long. You would be a potential huge liability.

    No, it's not possible to protect patients' privacy in every situation. That does not mean that we chuck out the idea entirely because it's just too darn hard.
  9. 0
    A lot of folks in this thread don't have a great deal of concern for what is legal, or they potential liability they're exposing themselves and their employer to by having such a cavalier attitude. But then, is anyone concerned with ethics? Suppose it were legal for a pharmacist to hold up your anti-retrovirals and lecture you on HIV in a loud voice, toward a croweded room. Would you think it was right or wrong, or would you be indifferent to it?

    In a small town, someone's career might be over if your illness becomes grist for rumor mill. That's not the only problem with violating medical privacy, though.
  10. 2
    I think that everyone agrees (?) that the pharmacist should not broadcast the fact that he is giving someone an Rx for certain meds (viagra, antiretrovirals, etc...).

    However, what about antibiotics. While the pharmacist might know that it is for bronchitis (antibiotics for bronchitis is another discussion), maybe someone else hears the Rx being called and they know "hey, that is what they give for some STD." Now, not only was the pt's privacy been violated, there is now a juicy rumor about them 'on the street.'

    What about an even more innocent appearing med, such as lisinopril? Mary, who has had heart issues before is now getting an Rx for lisinopril filled, which the pharmacist 'announces' to anyone in earshot. Seems innocent, who cares? Well, Mary's mother's neighbor is passing by and hears this. The neighbor goes back and tells the mother. The mother is furious because Mary "must" be keeping a worsening of her heart condition from her mother and the mother is hurt. Yes, it seems dramatic. Yes, it may seem like a silly scenario. However, something like this could happen. Now who cares if the pharmacist yells out that someone is getting a lisinopril script? Well, based on the family drama that may have been created, Mary cares....and I don't think anyone else can say the she does not have the right to be upset about it.
    mazy and Wet Noodle like this.


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