Pharmacist Used Health Information for Personal Reasons

December 17, 2013

A pharmacist who attempted to establish a personal relationship with a customer using her health information has been found in contravention of the Health Information Act (HIA).

A woman complained to the Information and Privacy Commissioner alleging that a pharmacist contacted her twice by phone and attempted to establish a relationship with her on Facebook. The woman was concerned that the pharmacist had obtained her contact information when she filled a prescription at the pharmacy.

The pharmacist was employed on a casual basis by Amani Pharmacy, located within a southeast Calgary Shoppers Drug Mart. He had access to health information for work purposes.

The HIA prohibits employees from using health information for purposes not in accordance with their job responsibilities. It also holds a pharmacy responsible for the misuse of health information by its staff.

The investigation found that the pharmacist misused health information and the pharmacy manager failed to implement reasonable safeguards to protect confidentiality, including providing privacy and security training to the pharmacist.

“Employers have a responsibility to inform and train their staff on the appropriate use of health information,” commented Information and Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton. “Health information systems are for health care, not matchmaking.”

The investigation recommended that Amani Pharmacy review and follow Shoppers Drug Mart policies and training requirements for all staff. It also recommended improvements to Shoppers Drug Mart’s technical safeguards to protect health information.