DOH Complaint: Walgreens Pharmacy Format a Risk to Patient Privacy
Change to Win Retail Initiatives (CtW) has filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Health, alleging that a Walgreens’ pharmacy format—named “Well Experience”—creates unlawful risks to public health and patient privacy. The complaint comes as drugstore chains push for changes to the practice of retail pharmacy in Florida that some medication safety advocates fear could lead to increased prescription errors.
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CtW argues that Walgreens is violating Florida law, which requires pharmacists to directly supervise their staff. The Well Experience format places the pharmacist at a public-facing desk in front of the traditional pharmacy counter, where they generally supervise prescription fills remotely through a computer monitor—and often do not handle medication before it’s given to patients.
CtW’s complaint also alleges that Walgreens is breaking laws requiring healthcare providers to protect sensitive patient information. An investigative study of Walgreens’ Well Experience model last year found patient privacy violations in 90 percent of Florida stores visited.
A number of state pharmacy boards have effectively prohibited the model or required Walgreens to implement changes before moving forward. In a California meeting of the state board, a Walgreens representative admitted that CtW’s 2013 study documented violations of pharmacy law. Despite widespread questions about its safety and efficacy, Florida’s board appears not to have publicly reviewed the model before Walgreens implemented it in the state.