Love Triangles and Liability: Walgreens hit with $1.4 Million Verdict

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Walgreens pharmacy was recently hit with a $1.4 million verdict for divulging sensitive patron information. The suit arises from one of the more peculiar set of facts you’ll encounter but the takeaway is important to all. Pharmacy chains have increasingly become the targets of lawsuits mostly stemming from the improper administration of prescriptions or the failure to give appropriate warnings.  But some recent suits involve a dilemma that all professionals face in this digital age: the failure to adequately protect sensitive and confidential data.

Last week a jury awarded a patron of an Indiana Walgreens $1.4 million after one of its pharmacists inappropriately accessed the plaintiff’s prescription data and provided it to the plaintiff’s husband.  What was the pharmacist’s motive for disclosing this information? She used to date the plaintiff’s husband and the trio share a “complicated relationship.” You can’t make this stuff up.

In her suit, the plaintiff alleges that Walgreens had a non-delegable duty to its customers to protect the privacy and confidentiality of their customers prescription information.  The suit alleges that Walgreens failed to properly train and supervise the pharmacist with respect to protecting patient data.

This is another warning to all professionals to make an effort to insure that patient data is afforded the utmost protection and any potential leaks are caught and curbed. Given the severe ramifications of these suits, professionals should be wary of how they protect client data and must train employees about the importance of privacy laws.  The failure to do so can be costly.