Ca: Pharmacists lose injunction bid to stop Zellers selling patient info

Well, that was quick. I had no sooner posted an interesting Canadian case involving pharmacy records than the court seemingly ended the matter. The Canadian Press reported:

 A group of Ontario pharmacists has lost its bid for an injunction barring Zellers from selling their patients’ records.

However, a judge says Zellers owns the records and is entitled to sell them.

The judge also says the national retailer has agreed to honour patient-file transfer requests and no harm will flow to the eight pharmacists involved in the claim.

Zellers is closing its 144 pharmacies as part of its sale to U.S.-based Target.

The pharmacists are suing Zellers over sale of their records to Loblaws and Metro Ontario Pharmacies.

They are worried about patient confidentiality being compromised, but the judge says that’s not going to happen.

So I guess we can conclude that the records are not the pharmacists’ records even if they owned the pharmacy franchise in a Zeller store.

I’m not sure what it means that Zeller has agreed to honor patient-file transfer requests.  What happens if the request is made after the sale/transfer to Loblaws and Metro? Will they then destroy their copies of the records? It would be nice to know a bit more about how patient privacy will be protected during this sale.

The court’s  ruling, though, is consistent with what would happen  in the U.S. Under HIPAA, a chain can sell its pharmacy records as part of its assets to another chain and as long as both seller and buyer are covered entities, there would be no problem.  Some of us might wish it wasn’t that way, but it does seem to be what the Privacy Rule permits.

About the author: Dissent