I must respectfully disagree with your fundamental analysis of this scenario.  Pharmacists (chemists) have, for more than 2000 years, been part of a triad (including physicians and nurses) engaged in an on-going clinical (NOT business) practice of ensuring that the correct medications and drugs are received by the correct patients.  Whenever we remove one of those clinical disciplines from the decision-making process, medication errors and mistakes are likely to increase.


It is NOT the intention of HIPAA to deter a good clinical practice.  Unfortunately, when unscrupulous people get hold of blank-prescriptions, innocent people may get hurt.  Under HIPAA, our responsibility then becomes mitigation of the harm.


I hope that this helps.


Your questions are always welcome.




Matthew Rosenblum

Chief Operations Officer

Privacy, Quality Management & Regulatory Affairs



CPI Directions, Inc.

10 West 15th Street, Suite 1922

New York, NY 10011


(212) 675-6367



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-----Original Message-----
Thursday, January 16, 2003 6:00 PM
To: WEDI SNIP Privacy Workgroup List
Subject: RE: Here is a good Privacy Issue that will cause problems


In my personal opinion, this practice - violating patient privacy, in the name of detecting abuse by private businesses - which is (it appears to me) unsupported by statute (unless mandated by DEA regulation) - is contrary to both many state laws and HIPAA.  I agree the practice serves a valuable community need, as well as the needs of the abusing patient (intervention).  However, as it (as I see it) is NOT a law enforcement reporting issue, but rather a "home grown" solution, that business simply do out of common sense, the practice will either have to be suspended, with suspects reported to law enforcement - cutting out the Sherlock Holms detection engaged in by pharmacists in the process - or get a state statute passed to support and require the activity.  After all, it appears to me that what is really occurring here is abuse of privacy, and potentially serious defamation, and that a case might be made for damages if a person is placed on these distribution lists wrongly.  However, as I am not an attorney I can not pass on a formal opinion.  Just keep in mind that a person DOES NOT LOOSE ANY RIGHTS just because a pharmacist suspects abuse!!!  It is up to statutory law enforcement of investigate, and a court to determine if a crime has been committed, NOT A CE, regardless of their practices.  I am frankly amazed that we have not heard more litigation on this issue.




Tim McGuinness, Ph.D.
Consulting Specialist in Regulatory Privacy, Security, and Application Compliance

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