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HIPPA and drug name disclosure
Apr 23, 2012

My mail order script company disclose the name of three medications that I am taking for three separate conditions to a corporate HR rep who then shared the info. with my HR manager. I was having difficulty getting my scripts so I reached out to the phramacy and HR. I never disclosed the names of the meds - only that there was a delay in shipping - the info that was shared via a chain of email disclosed three illness treatments unrelated to the drug that I was having trouble obtaining - were my privacy rights violated?

Response from Mr. Chambers

It's certainly possible. However, I'm concerned by your statement that you reached out to the pharmacy "and HR." Did you sign anything that gave HR the right to talk to your pharmacy plan administrator in order to resolve the delay? If so, read your copy of the document carefully to see if that release was limited or not.

Assuming you did not give HR, your pharmacy, or your pharmacy plan administrator any authorization to discuss your claim beyond the reasons for the delays, your medical confidentiality was possibly breached.

I encourage you to seek out a legal agency and address your questions to an attorney. There are many legal non-profits around the country that specialize in helping people with HIV/AIDS on just such issues.

In the absence of a legitimate HR reason, the release of the information by corporate HR to your local HR manager was also a possible violation of your medical confidentiality rights.

I also suggest, after seeking legal counsel, that you consider speaking with your HR manager to inquire what is being done with that information and to "politely" remind him/her that such information is well protected by federal (and probably state) law, and any further release by HR to others in your company would violate those laws and give you a right of action.

While it may be too late for you, I would advise other readers of this to try to settle such issues directly with your plan. ERISA provides methods to appeal about delays as well as denials, that you should take advantage. Only as a last result should you bring your employer into the issue, and only then with specific limits on what you need them to do.



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