HIPAA Regulations at the Pharmacy

HIPAA (The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1996, in order to reform the United States healthcare system.

However, the final privacy rules of this act were issued on August 9, 2002.

The most important mission of this act is to protect the medical records and health information of an individual.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule provides the first U.S. standards for protecting the privacy of health information.

The main principle used by the act is the following: if someone has the right to make a health care decision, this person also has the right to control all the information associated with his decision.

That’s why every U.S. healthcare worker must receive proper HIPAA training.

Protected Health Information

Under the HIPAA act, Protected Health Information (PHI) means any information about health status, provision of health care, or payment for health care which can be linked to a specific individual.

PHI can include written documents, electronic files, and any verbal information. HIPAA does not allow the Protected Health Information (PHI) to be shared with a third party without the written consent of the patient.

Signed Consent

It is important to mention that the patient’s signed consent before doing anything with his or her information is now only an option.

So there is no need for a pharmacy technician or pharmacist to get the patient’s consent before processing his information.

But techs and pharmacists must give their patients the written Notice of Privacy Practices. This document will spur discussions between pharmacy staff and their patients concerning how their PHI will be used.

Each privacy notice is specific to a pharmacy or hospital. However, patients are not required to sign the privacy notice if they don’t want to.

All patient acknowledgments of privacy notice must be kept on file at least for 6 years.

New Pharmacy Ownership and HIPPA

HIPAA allows the transfer of patient medical records.

So when a pharmacy has a new owner, he or she automatically gains access to all patient information. There is no need for patient authorizations to transfer all the records.

PHI and Marketing

When pharmacists intend to use the patient’s information for marketing purposes, they need written consent from the patients.

There is need for specific authorization in addition to the privacy policy before pharmacists can release any patient’s information for marketing use.

HIPPA and Minor's Rights

But what does HIPAA mention about minor’s rights? When talking about minor’s rights, HIPAA says: if the U.S. state does not specifically allow or disallow release of medical information to parents of a minor, then it is up to the pharmacist’s professional judgment if he or she will release it or not.

In other words, the state laws will determine how much of a minor’s protected health information (PHI) a parent can get through HIPAA.

Penalties for HIPPA Violations

People who violate HIPAA can face civil and criminal penalties, including fines ranging from $100 to $250,000 and/or imprisonment ranging from 1 to 10 years.

However, unintentional mistakes will not be punished. As long as techs and pharmacists protect their patients’ information and use it appropriately for their treatment, there shouldn’t be any problems.

So it’s important to protect the privacy of the patients’ information as best as possible.

Questions about HIPPA at the Pharmacy?

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What Other Visitors Have Said

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Hospital Pharmacy Technician 
Example 1: A 17 year old male, hospitalized with a diagnosis that my son dealt with 4 years ago. I make the comment, "poor guy, my son went through …

HIPPA Violation by a Pharmacy Owner/Pharmacist 
I have a friend who is a pharmacist.. She intentionally called another pharmacy to get her husband...now ex...viagra scripts and dollars.. She said she …

My local, private pharmacy closed. No notice was given to customers/patients prior to the closure. The pharmacy owner took it upon himself to transfer …

can the pharmacist/tech give my prescriptions to my ex-husband? I did not authorize them to do so. They saw it was the last name of a prescription he …

A Question about HIPPA Guidelines and Leaving Messages on Answering Machines 
My question is this, is it a violation of HIPAA to leave a message on the answering machine for a customer, telling them that their prescription is ready? …

pharmacy technician 
I have been in Pharmacy for 20 years, I have co-workers and RPHs that make and leave phone message like your rxs are ready for pick-up on an answering …

Leaving messages on answering machines 
Is it a violation of the HIPPA act to leave a message on an answering machine stating that a patients prescription is ready, but not leave specific info. …

Pharmacy HIPAA Not rated yet
I recently walked into a major grocery chain's pharmacy. The tech that took my prescription, looks at it and very loudly said "are you trying to lose weight?" …

HIPPA Question reguarding Hydrocodone and Suboxone Not rated yet
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Is it a HIPAA violation if a pharmacist is asked the price of a medication on a company discount plan and the pharmacist just filled the exact prescription …

Question about Patient Consent and Potential HIPPA Violation With Insurance Not rated yet
Do you have to give consent for the pharmacy to provide your information, or a prescription, to your insurance company? If the pharmacy faxes the prescription …

Violated rights Not rated yet
The pharmacist decided she was going to announce she was not going to fill my prescription because I had one filled 10 days ago, so she decides to announce …

Confused: Is this a HIPPA Violation? Not rated yet
My mom and stepfather went to pick up their prescriptions from the pharmacy today and the pharmacists thought that my parents had left the store so they …

Pharmacy Tech using social network to tell someone what Rx they need, not knowing the person is currently taking meds for it! Not rated yet
Is it a violation of HIPPA if a pharm tech sends a message via facebook calling someone a "Crazy Ass" and telling them to come see them at the pharmacy …

Legal v/s Illegal Questions Not rated yet
What are some examples of questions asked of patients that are legal? Illegal?

student 2011 Not rated yet
I was wondering: what are some hazards associated with being a Pharmacy Tech?

pharmacy rules  Not rated yet
Are pharmacies allowed to tell people what meds you're on and when a person picked up a prescription? thank you. Answer: Pharmacies must follow HIPPA …

Concerned friend Not rated yet
I have a friend who went through a divorce...his wife is a pharmacist and called another pharmacy and obtained his prescription information. She said …

Records manager Not rated yet
Do both parents have to present at a pharmacy for the pharmacy to release the minor child pharmacy profile?

Mailed prescription drugs Not rated yet
My pharmacy mailed my prescription drugs to the wrong address. The bottles had my name, doctor's name, and medical facility on them? Was that a HIPPA …


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