Walgreens Sued for Sharing Patient’s Private Medical Info

Josh Crank provides additional coverage on a case previously mentioned on this blog:

A jury ordered Walgreen Co. to pay $1.44 million to an Indiana woman after one of its pharmacists illegally accessed and shared her medical information. But according to conventional legal wisdom, that lawsuit should never have made it to trial.

The suit was filed in response to a privacy breach committed by Walgreens pharmacist Audra Peterson, whose husband was the ex-boyfriend of Abigail Hinchy, a customer at the pharmacy. Peterson suspected Hinchy of giving her husband a sexually transmitted disease, so she used her authority at the pharmacy to access Hinchy’s medical records. She shared Hinchy’s sensitive medical details with her husband, who later sent Hinchy a text message indicating he knew the records’ contents.

Even though Hinchy called the pharmacy to complain, Peterson was allowed to access the information a second time. The suit accused Walgreen Co. of negligence in its supervision of Peterson, though the company fought back by arguing that Peterson’s illegal acts weren’t associated with her employer-authorized conduct. A judge disagreed and sent the question to a jury, which found the company liable for 80 percent of the damages owed to Hinchy. Walgreen Co. indicated it would appeal the decision.

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