Can A Pharmacist Ask Private Questions Of A Customer?

Our pharmacist answers the latest question regarding whether or not a pharmacist can inquire for private information from a customer.

Sep 29, 2017

Jets asked

Can a pharmacist ask private medical conditions of a customer? This customer has been a long term customer of the pharmacy but there is a new pharmacist if that matters.


Yes, a pharmacist can and should ask about medical conditions of a patient if it is medically pertinent to the treatment of that patient. Just like all health care professionals, they are bound by HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)​ ​​and cannot divulge private information unless it is to an authorized person or to a medical professional when it is relevant to treatment.
Not only can they ask about necessary information, they may need it to do their job. Pharmacists are legally responsible for their decisions and judgement in regards to treatment. As such, they need to obtain pertinent information be it from a patient or from that patients medical office. If someone for example had a medical condition that conflicted with a medication they are dispensing, they are legally responsible should anything go wrong. They are also legally responsible for checking the dosing and reason for use of the medications they are dispensing.
Is there something specific you are troubled by?
Below are some common questions and answers regarding HIPAA & Pharmacy:
Can a pharmacist use protected health information to fill a prescription that was called in by a patient's physician without the patient's consent or authorization?
Yes. The pharmacist is using the protected health information for treatment purposes, and the HIPAA Privacy Rule does not require covered entities to obtain an individual’s consent prior to using or disclosing protected health information about him or her for treatment, payment, or health care operations.
Can a patient have a friend or family member pick up a prescription for her?
Yes. A pharmacist may use professional judgment and experience with common practice to make reasonable inferences of the patient’s best interest in allowing a person, other that the patient, to pick up a prescription.

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