Health Information Management

Study identifies safety and privacy risks at Walgreens pharmacies

HIM-HIPAA Insider, November 11, 2013

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Walgreens’ new “Well Experience” pharmacy model may pose significant risks to the safety and privacy of patients, according to a study conducted by Change to Win (CtW) Retail Initiatives. In an effort to make pharmacists more accessible, the “Well Experience” model places them at a desk in front of the pharmacy counter, according to CtW.

CtW investigated the “Well Experience” at 50 Walgreens locations in Illinois, Indiana, and Florida from June to August 2013 in an effort to identify risks associated with the model. CtW noted the following privacy and safety concerns:

  • During 32 hours of observation, pharmacists were interrupted or distracted 442 times. Interrupting or distracting a pharmacist could lead to medication errors.
  • Pharmacists left PHI of patients visible to anyone in the pharmacy in 80% of stores visited.
  • Prescriptions, including controlled substances, were left unattended or within reach of customers in 46% of stores visited. Many prescription bottles were already labeled and accompanied by brochures containing PHI.

CtW recommended that Walgreens reevaluate its new pharmacy model so that it does not pose a risk to patient privacy and medication security.

This article originally appeared on HCPro’s HIPAA Update blog. Stay up to date on all things HIPAA by signing up for e-mail updates from this blog.

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