What Would You Do? – October 17, 2016

Scenario: You are working in the pharmacy, and one of your coworkers is looking up a patient’s health history profile. You assume they are being ethical and using the profile for a reasonable purpose, so at first you assume nothing of it. However, you then see your coworker taking pictures of the patient’s profile and sending it to friends of the patient, which is clearly a violation of HIPAA laws. Since you just started working here and want to be friends with everyone, you are considering just pretending like you didn’t see anything. Yet, you know how important professionalism is in the work setting, and are considering reporting this incident to the manager. What would you do in this situation?

Answer: You should definitely report this incident to the manager, who can then take reasonable actions and address the employee. As a pharmacy intern, it is your duty to make sure that all patients’ personal information is not being used in an unreasonable manner. All HIPAA violations need to be addressed because it is important to keep patients’ health history private.

Take Away Message: Even though you want to be friends with your coworkers, you know that it is more important to report unreasonable behavior to the manager for the benefit of the patient. As a future pharmacist, you know that it is critical that a patient’s profile can only be used to help them improve their health. It is important to understand that HIPAA laws should always be followed for the safety of the patient.