Legality Of Pharmacist Discussing Your Prescription History

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Legality Question Says:
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Just curious about a certain topic that just came up and I had never experienced it before. However, it's important to note that I'm more curious about the legality of this situation and not looking for any feedback on any potential actions worth taking.

Situation: The other day I went in to see my doctor at a Pain Management clinic, who I've been with for years and have a great relationship with, and something very different was brought up that kind of had us both curious as to the reason behind this.

I want to point out I'm not publicly stating the pharmacy name since that's not the focus of my question, but I will state that it is one of the largest chains in the US.

The Event: When I was sitting with him he said, "I got a very odd and explicit call from ________ pharmacy asking me if it was okay for you to be taking your pain medication with ________ (the only other medication I am on), which of course I said 'yes'...."

QUESTION: This was strange to both of us because the pharmacist was asking my doctor about a medication that he doesn't even prescribe to me.... the other medication is prescribed by my Psychiatrist, whom I've been going to for 3+ years as well.

The other medication is not a pain medication of any type, it is not a benzodiazepine, and it does not even contradict with pain medication. It is prescribed to me for my mental / behavioral health condition -- depression / anxiety -- from my specialty psychiatrist.

I of course go to two different specialists because they are two entirely different doctors who treat two entirely different conditions of mine. I'd LOVE it if I could just see one doctor for both since I'd save a ton of money, but that's not reality.

So my question is, what in the world would have led a pharmacist from the pharmacy chain I've been going to for year's to have looked up my prescription history and call my doctor from the Pain MGMT clinic to specifically ask "is it okay that he is taking these two?"

*Of course* my doctor is already aware of what I take, and has been for years..... so we both were a little taken back by this since he said it, "was the first time I've ever had a pharmacy ask me about medications that a different doctor prescribe's to a patient."

He said he'd understand a little bit if I was prescribed pain medication from two different doctors, but never for two medications of different types that serve two entirely different purposes.

He was taken aback because he said, "they explicitly asked about taking both of the medications you have been taking for years..."

OTHER POINT OF INTEREST: I initially shook my head and just said, "hhhmmm... okay... that is kind of weird....", but I honestly didn't really care too much about it. It's not like I'm trying to hide anything haha.

But then when I left his office I stopped and realized that the medication they were asking him about was one that I hadn't even filled with this chain for maybe a year. Seriously..... a year.

So then I got extremely curious. Why would a pharmacists both care or call my doctor and ask about my current pain medication + my only other medication that I stopped filling with them a year prior?

I know they can clearly see that in their records. A year ago I started refilling my depression/anxiety medication from a pharmacy of a different chain right near me ONLY because the RX Savings Mobile App showed me I'd save $20 each refill at the other Large Chain....

So I've been seeing two doctors for two completely different purposes, each of whom prescribe two completely different medications.

Been filling both at two different pharmacies consistently for years, except used to fill both at the same pharmacy prior to a year ago.

1. Is this normal? A pharmacists to call one of your doctors and discuss your medical / prescription history with them when it's medications from another doctor as well? Also I never gave permission for this pharmacy to discuss my records.

I'm more just curious and not very upset.

2. Is that Legal? I had trouble researching specific info.

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Verwon Says:

Generally, medical professionals are allowed to discuss your prescribing history, or medical conditions, with other medical professionals, and it is not a breach of privacy, under U.S. HIPAA laws. At any time a medical professional feels concern regarding an issue, they are permitted to consult your doctor, or doctors, as the case may be, to be certain that they are aware of everything you are being prescribed and that they are safe to take together.

Overall, any doctor you see should be aware of any other doctor you see and what other medications you are taking. It is actually not safe to see one doctor for one issue and take what they prescribe, then see another doctor for something else and be taking what they prescribe, without informing both doctors, or your pharmacist.

Just as an example, for my own safety, my primary care physician needs to be aware of what my cardiologist prescribes, and my cardiologist needs to be aware of what my PCP has prescribed. This way, they can work together to find medications that are safe for me and make sure everything they do is in my best interest.

Thus, if something concerning alerted your prior pharmacist to a problem, yes, they has every right to contact your doctor and check. Doing so means they were concerned about your welfare.

Is there anything else I can help with?

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Natasha Says:

The CDC has guidelines that I just read that indicate things should be discussed with doctor and patient if being prescribed opioid pain medication AND anti-depressant and/or an anti-anxiety medication. It's not so much an interaction as the reason one is prescribed the psychiatric med. For example, prescribing both an opioid and an anti-anxiety medication would be contraindicated in a patient who has a history of suicide attempts. A warning comes up on the computer now indicating that two meds together may be a problem, which is why a pharmacist with Kaiser, for instance, may say something.

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