The Intersection of HIPAA and Negligence: Pharmacist’s Violation Cost Walgreens $1.44 Million

On November 14, 2014, the Court of Appeals of Indiana affirmed a $1.44 million judgment against Walgreens Company based on a HIPAA violation committed by a Walgreens pharmacist. Walgreen Co. v. Hinchy, 2014 WL 6130795 at *1 (Ind. Ct. App. 2014). In Walgreen Co. v. Hinchy, Walgreens’ pharmacist Audra Withers looked up the prescription information of Walgreens’ customer Abigail Hinchy. Withers then used the prescription information of Hinchy for personal reasons, which allegedly included allowing Withers’ husband to use the private information to pressure Hinchy into not asking Withers’ husband for child support. Upon figuring out how Withers’ husband obtained the private information, Hinchy contacted Walgreens’ regional office to report the matter.

During the investigation, Withers admitted to purposely accessing the information for personal use. Walgreens confirmed to Hinchy that a HIPAA violation had occurred. Id. Per Walgreens, “Withers received a written warning and was required to retake a computer training program regarding HIPAA.” Continue reading