HIPPA Question: Pharmacy Tech committing a HIPPA violation or not?

by Nancy Ermer
(Fox Valley )

Nosy Pharmacy Tech Calls My Doctor Behind My Back

Nosy Pharmacy Tech Calls My Doctor Behind My Back

Hi Dave, Not that very long ago I had asked a question about a Pharmacy Technition vs the Pharmacist. It was in regards to a Technition calling my pmd about a surgical script I brought to the pharmacy, she did not document her call in my chart, & the Pharmacist at first told me only he could make those calls but then renigged on all of his answers to me when questioned again. So, I guess my initial question was never really answered. Did this particular tech invade my privacy or did she not? I won't go into all the rest of the details here as I put them out there twice already. If you wouldn't mind giving me your thoughts regarding this issue or what the actual hippa guidelines say regarding a situation like this I would very much appreciate it.
Thank you again,
Nancy Ermer

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Aug 05, 2017
Regarding Violation or No Violation
by: Anonymous

Thank you Dave for your reply. No, I had no intentions of carrying this incident any further, I was just curious as to whether or not it was a privacy issue or not. So I do appreciate your explanation. I had no idea how things worked in the pharmacy/pharmacy tech world so you have explained it very well. I think your site is really informative so thanks for putting it out there. It is very educational.
Once again, thank you! I look forward to reading more.

Aug 05, 2017
I Don't Consider this a HIPPA Violation...
by: David

I appreciate your question and your patience while waiting for me to answer it. First off, I am a pharmacy technician, not a lawyer or attorney. If you are looking for legal advice or looking to take legal action against this particular pharmacy or pharmacy tech or pharmacist, you should consult with the appropriate legal counsel.

That said, there are a couple of things here that I want to address.

There is a difference between a HIPPA Violation and whether or not you feel your privacy was invaded. Someone "invading your privacy" is different than a HIPPA violation that legal action can be taken on.

In my experience working around 9 years in an independent retail pharmacy, there are not usually records kept by the pharmacy techs of phone calls made to doctors offices. If we had to document every phone call to every doctor's office we wouldn't be able to get any work done. While there is usually an electronic medication profile for customers--the pharmacy software--it is hard to know which type of pharmacy software is being used at your pharmacy and what capabilities it has or doesn't have in regard to your situation.

I guess what I am saying is that it is not uncommon for the pharmacist to be unaware of a phone call made by one or any of his techs. A lot is asked of pharmacy techs and more and more responsibility is required of them. The pharmacist sounds like he was unaware of whether the pharmacy tech had made the call, which is not uncommon like I said. Like your pharmacist said, "Anyone can call a doctor". Many pharmacists prefer techs to be handling as much of the workload as possible so that the pharmacists can use their time doing things only pharmacists can do, such as patient counseling and giving the final check on medications.

Also, if you are getting multiple narcotic prescriptions from different doctors AND you have a narcotic contract with one of those doctors, this could be part of the problem. A number of narcotic treatment agreements require narcotics to be prescribed by only one doctor exclusively.

Also, if you were "already on a higher strength" of the medication, then this prescription would be a lower strength pill being taken in addition to the higher strength pill. And your primary medical doctor told you to be careful, to only take it if absolutely necessary.

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