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Pharmacist saying outloud some comments about my HIV meds
Feb 7, 2004


I realize this forum is for workplace issues, however due to the lack of places where I can get some orientation on this issue I am going to dare to post my question here. Yesterday I went to my pharmacy to request some prescriptions (antibiotics) to treat an abcess, since I dont have either HMO or PPO plan, but rather my own insurance, which I have had since I was a kid, there is a special handling of my copayments, and the pharmacy has a note of this in their system. It seems like the personnel that was at the pharmacy when I tried to pick my prescriptions up was not familiar with this "special" handling and the pharmacist all confused repeated twice, in front of other clients, that this spcial procedure applied only to my HIV meds and some other med, but not to that one I was trying to get. My question is, is there some sort of confidenciality breach by her saying that out loud in front of other costumers?, I do not have any problem with people knowing I am HIV positive, but I do like to choose who I do tell. I felt extremely uncomfortable and exposed at that moment there, right to the point that I told her to forget the issue and left. Please advise.

Response from Ms. Breuer

Of course you're upset. Pharmacists should be as sensitive to confidentiality concerns as any physician. There was no excuse for using the diagnosis out loud, for other customers to hear, in the pharmacy.

Please return to the pharmacy and ask to speak with the pharmacist who did this--privately. Remind the pharmacist of his/her responsibility to respect your confidentiality and ask that in the future, all conversations with you about your HIV meds be private or guided by writing, not speaking, the information. You did not further your own cause by just leaving. Sometimes we have to insist that our rights be respected.

So back to the pharmacy. If you don't get satisfaction from that conversation, ask to speak with the manager. There are serious fines for any health professional who discloses your condition without your permission.

Crisis: Possible Hepatitis B/AIDS exposure w/co-worker

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