Ethics. Research. Community.

Pharmacist-patient privilege, confidentiality, and legally-mandated counseling: a legal review.

Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association (Washington,D.C. : 1996). 
1998 May-Jun
[Record Source: PubMed]
OBJECTIVE: To indicate the necessity for uniform, privileged status of pharmacist-patient communications. DATA SOURCES: Published cases (LEXIS), literature (NEXIS and MEDLINE), and abstracts available through November 1997. CASE SELECTION AND DATA ABSTRACTION: Selected by the authors for inclusion based on objectives, publication in English, and usefulness of information for practicing pharmacists. DATA SYNTHESIS: Since pharmacists are now legally required to counsel patients under federal and state laws, protection of the confidentiality of such information is of concern. Statutes are largely silent on the issue of pharmacist-patient communications, particularly oral communications. Some states recognize privilege (protection from subpoenas and court orders), others provide confidentiality only (information must be divulged only upon subpoena or court order), and most states specify neither type of protection for pharmacist-patient communications. An evaluation of case law indicates personal and legal risks, for both pharmacist and patient, associated with unprivileged communications occurring within a counseling situation. CONCLUSION: Pharmacist-patient communications must be granted privileged status, in all states, to protect both pharmacist and patient if pharmacists are to fulfill their legally-mandated counseling responsibilities.
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